HomePoliticsLive updates: White House briefing on unidentified objects in US airspace

Live updates: White House briefing on unidentified objects in US airspace

United States officials are revealing new details about the objects that were shot down in the last few days.

The US military shot down a high-altitude object over Lake Huron on Sunday afternoon, the Pentagon said. Another unidentified object was shot down over northern Canada on Saturday, and on Friday, an unidentified object was shot down in Alaska airspace.

All three objects looked different, according to two US officials. One official said they were approximately the same size. Two officials said none of the three objects were believed to have had propulsion, though the wreckage still needs to be examined to be sure. 

“I’m not able to categorize how they stay aloft. It could be a gaseous type of balloon inside a structure or it could be some type of propulsion system. But clearly, they’re able to stay aloft,” NORAD Commander Gen. Glen VanHerck said Sunday.

Multiple officials said the objects shot down in Alaska and over Canada were believed to have had payloads, meaning that something is being carried by the object.

Here’s what we now know about the objects:

  • Off the coast of northern Alaska: It was described as a metallic object that broke into several pieces when it impacted the sea ice, according to multiple US officials. That suggests it may have had some sort of structure to it, but officials won’t know for sure until the object is recovered.
  • Over Lake Huron: CNN reported on Sunday that the most recent object shot down over Lake Huron was “octagonal” in shape with strings hanging off and no discernible payload, according to a senior administration official. It was traveling at 20,000 feet when it was shot down, the Pentagon said Sunday.
  • Over northern Canada: The object shot down over the Yukon territory in Canada appeared to be a balloon with a metal payload hanging underneath, according to the officials. The object was also traveling at 40,000 feet, Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand said on Saturday. She went on to describe the object as a “cylindrical object” smaller than the Chinese surveillance balloon that was downed off the coast of South Carolina one week earlier.

The preliminary descriptions of the objects’ appearances underscore the difficulty for administration officials in identifying their purpose or origin. Officials have been at a loss to say what the objects could be, and the preliminary descriptions have not lent any more clarity.

Officials have taken pains to distinguish the three objects shot down over the last three days and the Chinese balloon shot down over the Atlantic Ocean. The three later objects were all smaller in size and flying at a much lower altitude.

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