Unidentified object shot down over Lake Huron -- Everything we know about it
(FOX 2) - Military officials are still working to identify several objects shot down this weekend, including one shot down over Lake Huron on Sunday.
The object shot down near Michigan's Upper Peninsula is the fourth object shot down by U.S. fighter jets in eight days, along with ones over Alaska and Canada and a suspected Chinese spy balloon.
READ: US working to identify 3 objects shot down from sky
Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, the commander of the United States Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, is not categorizing the three most recent objects as balloons and said he does not know how they stayed aloft.
"I haven’t ruled out anything," VanHerck said when asked if the objects could be aliens or something else extraterrestrial.
Was the object a threat?
Both VanHerck and Melissa Dalton, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs, said the object did not pose a kinetic threat to the military. However, it was flying at altitudes where it could have been a danger to civilian aircraft.
Officials are still assessing if these objects may be a risk to national security because they have passed over covered facilities, such as missile storage facilities.
The object was moving at about the speed of the wind, VanHerck said.
"What we’re seeing is very, very small objects that produce a very, very small radar cross-section," he said.
Dalton noted that there are companies that fly objects like the one shot down for research and other reasons that aren't nefarious, but since the object is not identified, officials are staying vigilant.
"The policy is to defend the United States and its sovereign territories and airspace full stop," Dalton said.
Where did the object come from?
VanHerck said the object is not being attributed to a country until they can recover it and study it. It is currently in Lake Huron and most likely drifted into Canadian waters.
According to the general, an object was spotted on a radar in Canada on Saturday. That object then crossed into the U.S. and was spotted over Montana. However, the track was lost. An object spotted in Wisconsin was "likely" the same one as the one seen in Montana.
VanHerck said the military prepared to engage the object and watched it pass over Lake Michigan before shooting it down over Lake Huron.
He said that the size and potential shape made the object and others difficult to track.
Why are so many objects being spotted now?
VanHerck said he didn't know when the last shootdown of an unknown or unauthorized object over U.S. territory occurred before the recent incidents, raising questions about why there have been so many now.
Dalton said the U.S. is more closely scrutinizing its airspace since the Chinese spy balloon and enhancing radars. This may be why there’s been more objects detected.
When asked if there are potentially more objects flying, VanHerck said "it’s certainly possible" but he cannot confirm that.
Dalton said that as officials study these objects, it will enhance their understanding of them, and they may be able to look back at prior incidents and see if they are similar. They will also better be able to track and identify these objects.