"The first Sidewinder heat-seeking missile missed the target," a government official
On Tuesday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley
what Fox News reported. "Yes, the first shot missed," he said.
The admission was particularly concerning because initial reports claimed that military officials were not sure where the missile ultimately landed. But Milley told reporters on Tuesday the errant missile "landed harmlessly in the water of Lake Huron" and has been recovered.
It's not clear why the government did not immediately disclose the missed shot.
"We made sure that airspace was clear of any commercial civilian or recreational traffic. We do the same thing for the maritime space, so we’re very, very deliberate in our planning," Milley said. "We’re very, very careful to make sure that those shots are in fact safe."
The AIM-9x Sidewinder is a heat-seeking, short-range air-to-air missile. The missiles cost about $400,000 each.
The Lake Huron object was the third unidentified object intercepted by American military forces in as many days. On Friday, fighter jets were scrambled to shoot down an object over Alaska, and on Saturday, U.S. pilots downed an object over Canada.
The latest object had first been spotted on Saturday over Montana, initially sparking debate over whether it even existed. On Saturday, military officials detected a radar blip over Montana, which then disappeared, leading them to conclude it was an anomaly. Then a blip appeared Sunday over Montana, then Wisconsin and Michigan. Once military officials obtained visual confirmation, they ordered an F-16 to shoot it down over Lake Huron.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin
Monday that recovery operations are underway to retrieve debris from the downed objects. However, no debris has yet been discovered, he said. The government, therefore, apparently remains in the dark as to what was shot down.
Still, Milley vowed the object debris would be recovered. The process was delayed, he said, because all three objects crashed into "very difficult terrain."
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