US shoots down fourth 'unidentified object' in eight days as latest spotted flying over Lake Huron

The remnants of a balloon - the first of three flying objects to be shot down over North America in recent weeks. Credit: AP / Chad Fish

President Joe Biden ordered an “unidentified object” shot down with a missile by fighter jets on Sunday, officials said.

It is the fourth object shot out of the sky by US fighter jets in eight days.

It comes after two flying objects were fired down by American fighter jets over Canada and Alaska. The United States believes they were both balloons.

The extraordinary air defense activity began when a white orb the US has said was a massive Chinese 'spy' balloon appeared over US airspace in late January and hovered above the nation for days before fighter jets downed it off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

US officials say the latest object downed over Lake Huron, Michigan, is believed to be the same one that was tracked and monitored over Montana by the government beginning the night before.

US and Canadian authorities had restricted some airspace over the lake earlier Sunday as planes were scrambled to intercept and try to identify the object.

The balloon was recovered of the Carolinas coast. Credit: AP

The flying objects were smaller than the Chinese balloon downed over the Atlantic Ocean last weekend, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, said earlier on Sunday.

The first balloon was shot down February, 4 off the South Carolina coast, after it had attracted widespread attention during its slow drift across US airspace.

On Friday, an object roughly the size of a small car was downed over rural Alaska, according to the White House.

Just a day later, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said a US fighter jet shot down an “unidentified object” flying over the Yukon on his orders.

Asked whether those two recent objects were balloons, Schumer earlier told ABC's “This Week”, “they believe they were, yes, but much smaller than the first one.”

Schumer said he had been briefed on Saturday night by President Joe Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, after the incident hours earlier over the Yukon.

The US government has said the first balloon was about the size of three school buses.

The Biden administration said it was used for surveillance but China claims it was on a meteorological research mission. Beijing said the 'airship' had accidentally drifted far off course.

Mr Schumer said teams were recovering debris from the objects and would work to determine where they came from.

He added: “The bottom line is until a few months ago we didn’t know about these balloons.

“It is wild that we didn’t know. ... Now they are learning a lot more.

"And the military and the intelligence are focused like a laser on first gathering and accumulating the information, then coming up with a comprehensive analysis."

The objects downed on Friday and Saturday were flying at a lower altitudes of about 40,000 feet, within the airspace occupied by commercial flights, compared with about 60,000 feet for the first one.

This posed a “reasonable threat” to the safety of civilian flights, said John Kirby, White House National Security Council spokesman.

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