WASHINGTON – The American military shot down a “small, metallic balloon” over Canada on Saturday, the Pentagon wrote in a memo to lawmakers Monday — offering one of the first descriptions of one of the three mystery objects downed over consecutive days.
The memo said the balloon, previously described as a “cylindrical object,” crossed near “US sensitive sites” before it was shot and “subsequently slowly descended” into Canadian waters off the Yukon territory, CNN reported.
The reported description is one of the first the Defense Department has released since taking down a trio of UFOs over the weekend. The US military also downed an unidentified object over Alaska on Friday and another over Lake Huron, Michigan on Sunday.
US officials have released few details about the latest objects as the military works to recover the items. As of Monday afternoon, the US had “not recovered any debris from the three most-recent shoot downs,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said.
Canada is heading the recovery efforts of the metallic balloon, while the US has started “extensive efforts” in Alaska and Michigan to retrieve the debris from the other two devices.
“In Alaska, the object landed on sea ice, and because of the wind chills and other weather impacts in the area, safety concerns are partially dictating recovery timelines,” Austin told reporters in Brussels. “In Lake Huron, US Northern Command and the US Coast Guard and the FBI are beginning operations to locate debris, in close partnership with the Canadians.”
It remains unclear who launched the most recent objects and what they were doing, but Austin said he hoped answers can be obtained when their remnants are retrieved.
“We don’t know if they were actually collecting intelligence, but because of the route that they took, out of an abundance of caution, we want to make sure that we have the ability to examine what these things are and potentially what they were doing,” he said.
The objects were spotted after NORAD adjusted their radar settings to keep a closer eye on high-altitude disturbances after a Chinese spy balloon spent a week flying from Alaska to South Carolina before the military shot it down on Feb. 4, according to the Pentagon.
A “significant” portion of the spy balloon’s payload was lifted off the ocean’s floor intact, including “the electronics they were looking for,” a senior US defense official told Fox News on Monday.
Austin confirmed that the military has recovered “a fair amount” of debris from the Chinese spy balloon, though weather and rough seas slowed search efforts over the weekend.
“Our priority is debris recovery so that we can get a better sense of what these objects are,” he said. “We’re working closely with the rest of the federal government, including the FAA, the FBI, NASA, and others, to work through what we might be seeing.”
Austin reiterated that “the three objects taken down this weekend are very different” from the massive Chinese spy balloon seen the week before.
“We knew exactly what that was, a [Chinese] surveillance balloon,” he said. “As we have said, we do not assess that the recent objects pose any direct threat to the people on the ground and we will continue to focus on confirming their nature and purpose.”
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