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First missile fired at unidentified object over Lake Huron missed target, top U.S. general says

Questions swirl about purpose of flying "objects"
Questions swirl about purpose of flying "objects" shot down over U.S., Canada 02:42

Washington — A missile fired by a U.S. fighter jet at a high-altitude object detected over Michigan on Sunday missed its target and landed in Lake Huron, Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed Tuesday.

Milley was asked about the apparent misfire during a press conference after the ninth meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in Brussels, Belgium.

"On the fourth one, over Lake Huron, first shot missed, second shot hit," he said. "The most important thing for the American military is to protect the American people."

Milley said the missile "landed harmlessly" in Lake Huron and was tracked "all the way down."

"We're very, very careful to make sure that those shots are, in fact, safe, and that's the guidance from the president: shoot it down but make sure we minimize collateral damage and we preserve the safety of the American people," he said.

A U.S. Air Force F-16 shot down the unidentified object detected over the Great Lakes region on Sunday, marking the third such take-down in so many days and fourth this month. A U.S. official told CBS News on Monday that the F-16 fired two Sidewinder missiles.

High-altitude objects were detected over Alaska on Friday and the Yukon on Saturday, and also brought down by military fighter jets.

The incidents came days after a Chinese surveillance balloon that entered U.S. airspace near Alaska on Jan. 28 was taken down off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4. The airship traversed the country, flying over or near military sites in Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska and Wyoming, before it was hit by a missile fired by an F-22 fighter jet.

The U.S. Navy is leading recovery operations for the balloon and its payload, and a U.S. official said a "significant" portion — 30 to 40 feet — of the balloon's antenna array was recovered from the ocean floor. 

The search for the other two objects shot down near Alaska and Canada is continuing, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Monday. The object shot down over Lake Huron is in deep water, he said.

David Martin contributed to this report.

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