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Coast Guard halts Lake Huron search for debris from shot-down airborne object

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Federal agencies have suspended a search for debris from the unidentified airborne object that a military fighter jet shot down Feb. 12 over Lake Huron after nothing could be recovered amid wintry conditions.

The U.S. Coast Guard, working with the FBI, called off the search in Lake Huron for debris from the mystery object, North American Aerospace Defense Command said late Friday night. A statement from the Coast Guard said the search ended Wednesday night.

On Thursday, Canada’s Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Mounted Police suspended their search of Canadian waters in Lake Huron for any debris.

The Canadian and U.S. agencies involved in the Lake Huron search “have not identified debris from the airborne object after multiple days of surface searches and subsurface scans,” NORAD’s U.S. Northern Command said Friday in a news release.

U.S. officials also halted a search for debris from another flying object that the military shot down off over the northern coast of Alaska near the remote town of Deadhorse.

The abandonment of the search mission comes a day after President Joe Biden said there’s no evidence that either of the objects — plus a third one shot down over Canada’s remote Yukon providence last weekend — were connected to the Chinese spy balloon that was down off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4.

“We don’t yet know exactly what these three objects were, but nothing right now suggests they’re related to China’s spy balloon program or that they were surveillance vehicles from any other country,” Biden said Thursday in remarks at the White House.

“The Intelligence community’s current assessment is that these three objects were most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation or research institutions, studying weather or conducting other scientific research,” the president added.

NORAD also said Friday that the search for remnants of the spy balloon has been halted and the debris recovered from the Atlantic Ocean will be taken to an FBI lab in Virginia “for counterintelligence exploitation.”

An F-16 fighter jet shot down the unidentified object last Sunday afternoon over Lake Huron on the U.S. side of the border with Canada. The debris is believed to have gotten washed east into Canadian waters.

Pentagon officials have said the object passed over Wisconsin, Lake Michigan and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula before it was shot down about 15 nautical miles east of the U.P. in Lake Huron.

In leaked cockpit audio, the F-16 pilot described the object as “suspended in the air,” “octagonal” in shape and small. At one point in the recording, the pilot compared it to the size of a four-wheeler.

“I wouldn’t call it a balloon. I don’t really know what … I can see it outside with my eyes. … It definitely looks like something, uh, there’s some kind of object that’s suspended in the air. It’s hard to tell. It’s pretty small,” the pilot says in the recording, which the Air Force confirmed Wednesday is authentic.


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