Politics

U.S. shoots down a fourth high-altitude object as lawmakers demand more information

Key Points
  • The U.S. military shot down a fourth unidentified object Sunday and expects to recover it, according to NBC News.
  • The White House on Friday announced a second object had been shot down over Alaska, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Saturday a U.S. fighter jet shot down a third "unidentified object."
  • Officials have yet to release details about the objects that were downed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
An F-16 rises from low altitude in Canada in this file photo.
Steve Russell | Toronto Star | Getty Images

The U.S. military shot down a fourth unidentified object Sunday and expects to recover it. Officials said there were no indications of collateral damage and that the object went down in the lake.

"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," according to a statement by the Pentagon on Sunday. "Its path and altitude raised concerns, including that it could be a hazard to civil aviation."

Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Mich., confirmed in a tweet Sunday that he had been in contact with the Department of Defense regarding the operation in the Great Lakes region. He said the U.S. "decommissioned another 'object'" over Lake Huron.

U.S. military shoots down unknown object over Michigan
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U.S. military shoots down unknown object over Michigan

"The American people deserve far more answers than we have," he wrote in the tweet.

American fighter jets have shot down four high-altitude objects in the airspace above the U.S. and Canada in the last week, and members of Congress complained they have not been briefed about the latest incidents.

On Feb. 4, the U.S. military shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon that had been transiting across the country for several days. The White House announced a second object had been shot down on Friday that was flying over Alaska at about 40,000 feet. The following day, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he worked with President Joe Biden to order a U.S. fighter jet to shoot down an "unidentified object" that was flying over the Yukon.

Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., said he was advised on Sunday that a fourth high-altitude object existed near Montana.

"I am waiting now to receive visual confirmation," he wrote in a tweet. "Our nation's security is my priority."

Officials have yet to release many details about the objects that were downed on Friday and Saturday, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told ABC's "This Week" Sunday that officials now believe both objects were balloons that were much smaller than the initial spy balloon.

Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, said he is unaware of what the two latest objects are, and that members of Congress did not receive formal briefings about them from the Biden administration.

"This could be because they don't have any information," Turner told CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday. "From the press conference we saw, it does seem like they took this action without a real understanding for what they were going after."

He said there needs to be more engagement between the Biden administration and Congress, and that the events of the last week suggest the U.S. needs to do a better job actively defending American airspace.

Turner was critical of the Biden administration for waiting several days to take down the suspected Chinese spy balloon, so he said he "would prefer them to be trigger happy than to be permissive."

In a statement Saturday, Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said Canadian authorities are conducting recovery operations to help both countries learn more about the nature of the object downed in Canada.

Canada's Defense Minister Anita Anand said during a press conference Saturday that it is too early to tell whether or not the object came from China.

"From all indications, this object is potentially similar to the one that was shot down off the coast of North Carolina, though smaller in size and cylindrical in nature," Anand said.

On Friday, White House spokesman John Kirby hesitated to characterize the aircraft downed over Alaska as a balloon, saying "we're calling this an object because that's the best description we have right now." He also said U.S. officials did not yet know which nation or group was responsible for it.

Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., said members of Congress were given a top-secret briefing about the Chinese spy balloon, but that lawmakers have not been directly briefed about the second or third incidents. He said he suspects that since the objects were downed in remote areas, there is not a lot of information to share yet.

"I have real concerns about why the administration has not been more forthcoming with everything that it knows," Himes told NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday.

Himes said there is "a lot of garbage" in the air, and that it is not hard for countries, companies or even individuals with resources to get objects into the sky.

"My speculative guess as to why we're seeing these things happen in quick succession is that now we're really attuned to looking for them," he said.

He urged Americans to resist assuming that there has been an alien invasion or foul play by another nation until more information can be released. Himes said that in the absence of information, people's anxiety can lead them into "potentially destructive areas."

Associated Press contributed to this report.