'Octagonal' object shot down by military aircraft over Lake Huron, US officials confirm

The FAA also temporarily closed airspace over parts of Lake Michigan Sunday for Department of Defense activity

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Monday, February 13, 2023
'Octagonal' object shot down by military aircraft over Lake Huron, US officials confirm
Per the official, the object shot down over Lake Huron was detected on radar over Montana Saturday, according to ABC News.

CHICAGO -- Another high-altitude object was shot down Sunday, this time over Lake Huron, three U.S. officials confirmed to ABC News. The object was shot down by a U.S. military aircraft, marking the latest in a string of such incidents.

The Pentagon confirmed the takedown, saying they've been keeping a closer watch on American airspace since the discovery of the Chinese spy balloon earlier this month, and they "will remain vigilant."

At 2:45 p.m., a U.S. Air Force F-16 from the Wisconsin Air National Guard fired a sidewinder missile at the objects, the Pentagon said.

"Its path and altitude raised concerns, including that it could be a hazard to civil aviation. The location chosen for this shoot down afforded us the opportunity to avoid impact to people on the ground while improving chances for debris recovery. There are no indications of any civilians hurt or otherwise affected," North American Aerospace Defense Command said in a statement.

A senior administration official told ABC News that President Biden directed Sunday's object be shot down "out of an abundance of caution and at the recommendation of military leaders."

"Because we have not been able to definitively assess what these recent objects are, the president wanted to act out of an abundance of caution to protect our security and our interests," said Melissa Dalton, assistant secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs.

Per the official, the object shot down over Lake Huron was detected on radar over Montana Saturday.

Fighter jets were scrambled to investigate and saw nothing, so the restriction was lifted

"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," the Pentagon also confirmed.

NORTHCOM/NORAD detected a radar contact in Montana Saturday and sent fighter aircraft to investigate. Those aircraft did not identify any objects to correlate to the radar hits, which led NORTHCOM/NORAD to believe it could be an anomaly and continued to monitor the situation, the senior administration official said.

Then Sunday, NORTHCOM/NORAD re-acquired the radar contact and detected an "unmanned object" from Montana over Wisconsin and Michigan, the official added. The detected unmanned object was over Michigan's upper peninsula at approx. 20K feet and about to go over Lake Huron.

The Lake Huron object was an octagonal structure with strings hanging off but no discernable payload. The official also said that there is no indication of surveillance capabilities but they cannot rule it out.

The debris landed in Canadian waters, where both Canadian and U.S. crews are working to recover it, the Pentagon said.

Airspace over parts of Lake Michigan were also under temporary flight restrictions for national defense reasons earlier Sunday, according to a Federal Aviation Administration notice.

The notice said the FAA temporarily declared parts of the area as "national defense airspace." The North American Aerospace Defense Command said restrictions were implemented at about 11 a.m.

"The FAA briefly closed some airspace over Lake Michigan to support Department of Defense activities. The airspace has been reopened," the FAA said in a statement just before 1 p.m.

SEE ALSO | US F-22 shoots down unidentified 'cylindrical' object detected over Canada

"With the cooperation of the Federal Aviation Administration, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) implemented a temporary flight restriction airspace over Lake Michigan at approximately 12 p.m. EST on Feb. 12, 2023, to ensure the safety of air traffic in the area during NORAD operations. The temporary flight restriction has since been lifted," NORAD said in a Tweet.

NORAD did not immediately reply to questions on the nature of those operations.

The operation marks the third day in a row that an unidentified object was shot down over North American airspace. An unidentified object was shot down over northern Canada on Saturday. On Friday, an unidentified object was shot down in Alaska airspace by a US F-22.

There was also a temporary flight restriction put in place Saturday night over Montana, according to NORAD. The temporary restriction was issued after NORAD detected a "radar anomaly." Aircraft were sent to investigate the incident but didn't see anything.

It also follows last weekend when a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon was taken down by F-22s off the coast of South Carolina.

RELATED | US officials disclosed new details about the Chinese spy balloon's capabilities: What we know

"Shooting the balloon down in the Atlantic once it flew over all the military bases including my own Fort Campbell, Kentucky. It's very disturbing. I'm glad this administration is taking it more seriously with respect to the balloons but we've got a whole lot bigger problem with china than the spy balloons," said Kentucky Rep. James Comer (R).

But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer defended the Biden Administration's handling of the situation. Saying, "We're going to probably be able to piece together this whole surveillance balloon and know exactly what's going on. So that's a huge coup for the United States."

Schumer also said the U.S. gained intelligence information from surveilling that balloon

Michigan Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin tweeted Sunday that she received a call from the Department of Defense, saying "Our military has an extremely close eye on the object above Lake Huron."

Around 3 p.m., she tweeted again saying the object had been downed by pilots from the U.S. Air Force and National Guard.

"Great work by all who carried out this mission both in the air and back at headquarters. We're all interested in exactly what this object was and its purpose," Slotkin wrote.

Republican Rep. Jack Bergman of Michigan also confirmed the operation Sunday, tweeting, "The US military has decommissioned another 'object' over Lake Huron."

"I appreciate the decisive action by our fighter pilots," he said.

CNN contributed to this post