fourth object shot down

February 13, 2023
a photograph of Lake Huron

Its path and altitude raised concerns, including that it could be a hazard to civil aviation.

A statement from the U.S. Department of Defense on the fourth unidentified object shot down in recent days.

Why It Matters: The incident on Sunday occurred less than 24 hours after another object was shot down on Saturday; there was also an additional incident on Friday. The unidentified objects are not being attributed to a nation state or actor at this time. This object was notably flying lower (20,000 feet) than previous objects downed, which were flying at an estimated at 40,000 feet or higher.

Full Statement from the Pentagon:

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 U.S. 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 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 detected the object Sunday morning and has maintained visual and radar tracking of it. 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. Our team will now work to recover the object in an effort to learn more.

A few more details:

  • "… the object was octagonal, with strings hanging off, but had no discernable payload" (The Associated Press).
  • "The latest brought down was first detected on Saturday evening over Montana, but it was initially thought to be an anomaly. Radar picked it up again Sunday hovering over the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and it was going over Lake Huron, Pentagon officials said Sunday" (The Associated Press).

by Jenna Lee,