The U.S military shot down an unidentified object flying over Canada on Saturday under orders from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau—the third aerial object shot down over North America over the last week, though it’s unclear if the latest incident was connected to the suspected Chinese spy balloon destroyed off the coast of South Carolina on February 4.
Trudeau ordered the takedown of the unidentified object “that violated Canadian air space” on Saturday around 3:40 p.m., he announced in a Tweet.
A U.S. F-22 shot down the object as it was flying over the Yukon, about 100 miles from the U.S.-Canadian border, in an operation coordinated by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD, Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand said in a press conference on Saturday.
The cylindrical object, which was flying at about 40,000 feet when it was shot down, is “potentially similar” to the suspected Chinese spy balloon shot down off the coast of South Carolina, but is smaller in size, Anand said.
President Joe Biden learned of the object on Friday, Pentagon officials said, and spoke to Trudeau about it on Saturday before Biden authorized the take down out of “an abundance of caution,” the White House said.
NORAD sent two F-22s from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska to monitor the object on Friday as it was flying over Alaskan airspace, Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said.
Canadian forces are working to “recover and analyze the wreckage of the object,” Trudeau said, while the FBI and Royal Canadian Mounted Police are also probing its source.
“This was the first time that a NORAD operation has downed an aerial object,” Anand said. “The importance of this moment should not be underestimated.”
Saturday’s incident in Canada comes after the U.S. military shot down another unidentified object flying over Alaska on Friday afternoon that entered U.S airspace sometime Thursday, Ryder said. The military had limited information about the object, which was about “the size of a small car,” Ryder said, but he did not indicate that it was connected to the suspected Chinese spy balloon. Recovery operations were underway on Saturday near Deadhorse, Alaska, but were compromised by winter weather conditions. On Feb. 4, the U.S. shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon that had traveled through the Aleutian Islands in Alaska to Montana and east over the U.S. before reaching the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina—an incident that has escalated tensions with the Chinese government, which said Thursday that the takedown “seriously violates international practice and sets a bad precedent.”
All three objects were shot down with an AIM-9X missile, officials said.
NORAD and the U.S. Northern Command sent fighter jets to monitor a “radar anomaly” over Montana later Saturday, leading to a temporary airspace closure, but ultimately did not identify an object, the agencies said in a statement.
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