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Here’s the audio from F-16s shooting down object over Lake Huron

Two F-16 Fighting Falcons from 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minn. fly in formation over the shores of Lake Superior. (Photo by Photo by Master Sgt. Jason Rolfe, 148th Fighter Wing/Released)
February 17, 2023

In the past week, the U.S. military downed a series of objects operating over U.S. airspace. The objects U.S. fighter pilots encountered remain a mystery to the vast majority of the American public, but newly-released audio provides some clues as to what one of the objects was.

Audio, taken from F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots over Lake Huron and shared with The Drive provides some context of what the pilots saw before one of them shot down the unidentified object. The object was flying at about 20,000 feet and was taken out by the F-16 fighter pilot at 2:42 p.m., according to a statement from the Defense Department.

In the audio, F-16 pilots from the 148th Fighter Wing described the airborne object as an “octagonal structure.”

“I wouldn’t really call it a balloon. I don’t know what. I can see it outside with my eyes,” one pilot says. “Looks like something there’s some kind of object that’s suspended in the air. It’s hard to tell, it’s pretty small, I cannot see it outside with my eyes.”

“I’m gonna call it a balloon,” one of the pilots says.

The pilots expressed difficulty identifying the object because of its relatively small size and its slow speed compared to their fast-manuevering fighter jets. One pilot said the object was “definitely smaller than a car.” A pilot later assessed it to be about the size of a “four-wheeler.”

The pilots also repeatedly referred to lines or strings hanging down from the object.

“In the targeting pod, I can’t tell if it’s metallic or what, but I can see like lines coming down below it, but I can’t see anything below it,” one pilot says.

“You can definitely see strings below but don’t see anything hanging below” a pilot says.

“Looking outside it’s like a black-ish, I’m gonna call it like a container, can’t really tell though what the shape is,” one pilot says. 

One of the pilots indicated he a targeting lock on the object but indicated some difficulty keeping his eye on the target. “Good track but can’t see through the glare of the cockpit.”

Indeed, targeting the object did prove difficult for the fighter pilots. The Department of Defense revealed the first AIM-9X Sidewinder missile the pilots fired at the object missed the target. Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the missed missile “landed harmlessly in the water of Lake Huron. We tracked it all the way down.”

The DoD decided to take out the object over Lake Huron to minimize the risk of collateral damage and improve the chances of debris recovery. Thus far, the debris has not been recovered.