In the third such incident in the past three days, a US fighter plane on Sunday shot down an unidentified flying object over Lake Huron in Michigan state.
Earlier, a US fighter shot down an unidentified object over Alaska on Friday and another over North-western Canada on Saturday as part of a joint US-Canadian operation. The United States and Canada operate a joint air-defence command called the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
The US Department of Defense (DoD) on Sunday said the latest downed object is likely the same object that NORAD had spotted over Montana on Saturday.
The DoD said, "Based on its flight path and data we can reasonably connect this object to the radar signal picked up over Montana, which flew in proximity to sensitive DOD sites. We did not assess it to be a kinetic military threat to anything on the ground, but assess it was a safety flight hazard and a threat due to its potential surveillance capabilities."
The DoD further said President Joe Biden was briefed on the situation and he ordered the latest shoot-down.
The DoD said, "Today at 2:42 p.m. ET, at the direction of President Biden, and based on the recommendations of Secretary Austin and military leadership, an F-16 fired an AIM9x to successfully shoot down an airborne object flying at approximately 20,000 feet altitude in US airspace over Lake Huron in the State of Michigan. Its path and altitude raised concerns, including that it could be a hazard to civil aviation."
The DoD added that the location of shootdown reduced the chances of any collateral damage and increase the chances of recovering the remains.
What was the object over Montana?
Besides the shoot-down over North-western Canada on Saturday, there was one case of a 'false alarm' on Saturday over the US state of Montana.
The US-Canada joint air-defence command NORAD observed suspicious activity over Montana on radars and the US government restricted flight activity in the region and deployed fighters. However, nothing was found.
The NORAD said, "NORAD detected radar anamoly and sent fighter aircraft to investigate. Those aircraft did not identify any object to correlate to the radar hits. NORAD will continue to monitor the situation."
Statement from NORAD & U.S. Northern Command pic.twitter.com/aY1VXRCpEs— North American Aerospace Defense Command (@NORADCommand) February 12, 2023
The airspace restrictions were subsequently lifted.
Following the latest shoot-down over Michigan on Sunday, the US military said the object shot was likely the one spotted over Montana earlier. However, there was no confirmation.
"It's likely, but we have not confirmed, that the track that we saw in Wisconsin was likely the same track in Montana," said NORAD and US Northern Command cheif Gen. Glen VanHerck, as per CNN.
There are no further details available about the latest shoot-down. The details about the ongoing unidentified flying objects are scarce and limited to brief statements issued by NORAD, DoD, and White House.
The nature or the origin of the latest object downed or those downed earlier are not yet known.