A US fighter jet shot down an unidentified object in the skies over Canada on Saturday on the orders of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canadian and US officials confirmed.
After US and Canadian military jets were sent into the air, a US F-22 successfully shot down the object over the Yukon, Trudeau said Saturday afternoon in a tweet.
The operation was coordinated by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the combined air defense organization of the United States and Canada.
On Sunday, Trudeau said investigators are looking for debris from the flying object.
«Recovery teams are on the ground, searching and analyzing the object,» Trudeau told reporters before leaving for a previously scheduled fundraising event in the Yukon.
Trudeau’s comments came as US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told ABC that US officials believe the object, as well as another flying object shot down near Deadhorse, Alaska on Friday, they were balloons.
Saturday’s shootdown of an object in the skies over North America is the third in less than two weeks.
In a press conference broadcast Saturday night, Canada’s Defense Minister Anita Anand described the object as cylindrical and smaller than an object recovered off the US coast after it was shot down. on February 4. She said it was otherwise «potentially similar.» the one who was shot down off South Carolina.
On Saturday, the object was shot down at 3:41 pm ET, about 100 miles from the US-Canada border and at 40,000 feet after US and Canadian aircrews observed it, Anand said. She described the area as central Yukon.
«This was the first time that a NORAD operation has shot down an aerial object,» Anand said. «The importance of this moment should not be underestimated.»
White House and Pentagon officials confirmed Saturday that the decision was made in consultation with President Joe Biden, who was informed Friday of the object’s presence.
“Following a call between the Prime Minister of Canada and the President of the United States, President Biden authorized US fighter jets assigned to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to work with Canada to shoot down an object high-altitude aerial over northern Canada. today,” Brigadier General Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement.
A White House official said a military recommendation was to shoot down the object as a precaution, and both leaders agreed.
Biden authorized US aircraft under the command of NORAD to carry out the operation in close coordination with Canadian authorities, according to the official.
The object had been known to the United States since Friday and had been closely monitored by NORAD for the past 24 hours, with Biden receiving updates, according to the official.
Ryder later said NORAD launched an aircraft to track the object Friday night as it was over Alaskan airspace.
«Two F-22 aircraft from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, monitored the object over US airspace with the help of Alaska Air National Guard refueling planes, following it closely and taking the time to characterize the nature of the object,» said the brigadier general. .
«I have ordered the downing of an unidentified object that violated Canadian airspace,» Trudeau tweeted on Saturday.
“I spoke with President Biden this afternoon,” he added. «Canadian forces will now recover and analyze the remains of the object.»
Trudeau thanked the North American Aerospace Defense Command «for keeping an eye on North America.»
An AIM 9X missile was used in the shootdown, Ryder said.
The FBI was working with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to investigate the source of the object, he said.
Anand said the debris was being recovered on Saturday night. Although the origins of the object are not yet known, the defense minister said Canada and the United States should proceed with «eyes wide open» to possible Chinese involvement.
According to a White House readout of the Saturday call between Biden and Trudeau, the two discussed the importance of recovering the remains in determining the object’s purpose and origin.
A Homeland Security spokesman said the objects shot down over Canada and Alaska «did not look very similar and were much smaller than» the suspected Chinese spy balloon shot down on February 4.
On Saturday, NORAD and US Northern Command (NORTHCOM) reported that fighter jets had been dispatched to investigate a radar-detected «anomaly» in the airspace over Montana.
“Those aircraft did not identify any objects to correlate with the radar hits,” the agencies said in a statement. “NORAD will continue to monitor the situation.
Airspace in the area was temporarily closed.
NORAD and other agencies were still dealing with previous incursions. The command said Friday it was continuing recovery efforts off the South Carolina coast of a suspected Chinese spy balloon.
Saturday’s incident over the Yukon followed Friday’s downing of what National Security Council official John Kirby described as a «high-altitude object» flying over Alaskan airspace and Arctic waters. Kirby said the object was «about the size of a small car.»
Efforts were underway Saturday to recover what was left of the object near Deadhorse, Alaska, but the team faced the challenge of sea ice, wind chill, snow, limited daylight and other conditions that engulf the region in winter. .
The US Northern Command said in a statement that its Alaska Command and the Alaska National Guard were coordinating with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. The effort was not explicitly related to the alleged February 4 spy balloon, but information about recovery efforts in South Carolina waters was included in the Northern Command statement.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, told NBC’s «Nightly News with Lester Holt» on Friday that the balloon shot down on February 4 was «a threat to our sovereignty.»
On Saturday, he praised the US military’s efforts to shoot down the object over Canada and said the Americans need to know as much as possible about the apparent incursions.
“I will continue to encourage maximum transparency so Alaskans have the fullest possible understanding of who they are and what we are doing, on our nation’s first line of defense, to safely get them out of the sky,” Murkowski said in a statement. release. .
Fellow Republican Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska urged a swift recovery and investigation of the downed object over Canada «to fully understand the nature of the threat we face at this time.»
On Thursday, China’s Defense Ministry said the shooting down of the balloon on February 4 «seriously violates international practice and sets a bad precedent.»
The ministry also described a unanimous resolution by US House lawmakers condemning China’s use of the balloon as «political manipulation and exaggeration.» Chinese government officials maintain that it was a civilian airship.