The United States on Sunday shot down the fourth flying object in its skies in less than 10 days.
The BBC reported that the latest object was not deemed a military threat, and has been described by defence officials as an unmanned “octagonal structure” with strings attached to it.
The object was first detected above military sites in Montana on Saturday and was downed by a missile near Lake Huron, close to the Canadian border, on Sunday afternoon on the orders of President Joe Biden.
“The object could have interfered with commercial air traffic as it was travelling at 20,000ft (6,100m)”, BBC quoted a Pentagon statement as saying.
On 4 February, the US shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina after hovering for days over the continental US. Officials said it originated in China and had been used to monitor sensitive sites.
China however denied the object was used for spying and said it was a weather monitoring device that had been blown astray.
This further put a strain on the already strained relationship between the US and China.
On 10 February, a second flying object was shot down off northern Alaska. Officials said the object lacked any system of propulsion or control.
One day after (11 February), a fighter jet shot down a “high-altitude airborne object” over Canada’s Yukon territory, about 100 miles (160 km) from the US border. It was described as cylindrical and smaller than the first balloon
The US Air Force general overseeing North American airspace, Glen VanHerck, said it still was not clear how the objects were being propelled through the air or where they were coming from.
He also said he had not ruled any explanation out – including extraterrestrial life.
“I will let the intel community and the counterintelligence community figure that out,” BBC quoted Mr VanHerck as telling reporters.
Another senior official told ABC News that the three most recent objects to be shot down were likely weather devices and not surveillance balloons.