“I have ordered the downing of an unidentified object violating Canadian airspace,” Trudeau tweeted Saturday. “@NORADCommand The object was shot down over the Yukon. Canadian and US aircraft were scrambled, and a US F-22 successfully shot down the object.”
“I spoke with President Biden this afternoon. Canadian forces will now recover and analyze the wreckage of the object. Thanks to NORAD for keeping an eye on North America,” Trudeau added.
The latest incident comes a day after another F-22 shot down an unidentified cylindrical object over Alaskan airspace, which the US military is currently recovering near Deadhorse, Alaska.
The intercepts follow a cross-country saga earlier this month when a Chinese surveillance balloon flew over the US from Montana to South Carolina before being brought down over the Atlantic.
The US Department of Defense confirmed that NORAD detected the object over Alaska on Friday evening.
“As Canadian authorities conduct recovery operations to help learn more about the object, the Federal Bureau of Investigation will work closely with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police,” Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder said in a statement.
Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand said she and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin discussed the incident. “We will always defend our sovereignty together,” Anand said. A tweet on Saturday.
“This is the first time a NORAD operation has destroyed an aerial object,” Anand said at a press conference on Saturday evening.
Canada’s defense minister said the object appeared to be a small cylindrical object, smaller than the one shot off the coast of North Carolina last week. The object, flying at an altitude of about 40,000 feet, “poses a reasonable threat to the safety of civilian flights,” he said.
Anand said it went down about 100 miles from the US-Canada border in the central Yukon at 3:41 pm ET. Both US and Canadian aircraft were involved in the operation. American F-22s were launched from Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage and Canadian F-18s from Cold Lake, Alberta. Canadian Chief of the Defense Staff General Wayne Eyre confirmed that an AIM-9X Sidewinder missile, from an F-22, downed the object.
Anand did not confirm whether the object came from China, saying it was too early to determine where it came from.
Anand met Austin on Friday in Washington where the spy balloon was shot down over the Carolinas. That balloon was initially tracked and analyzed by NORAD, he told reporters during a morning briefing. “Last year, we announced upgrades to our continental defenses and NORAD, about C$40 billion [$30 billion],” he added. “This incident underscores the importance of that initiative.”
The upgrade is focused on improving NORAD’s ability to detect and track intrusions into North American airspace, Melissa Dalton, assistant secretary for homeland defense and hemispheric affairs, said at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Thursday.
“We are taking steps to enhance the existing North Warning System with Canada, including the development of a new system of sensors called Crossbow that will be able to detect airborne threats near NORAD,” Dalton said.
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) praised U.S. Air Force personnel who shot down an unidentified object over Canadian airspace. Sullivan called for a redoubled effort to “recover, exploit and analyze the unidentified aircraft that was shot down over Alaska and Canada … to fully understand the nature of the threat we face right now.” A tweet on Saturday.
The FAA announced late Saturday that it has closed some airspace over Montana for Department of Defense operations. After a while the airspace was reopened. In a statement, NORAD said it detected a “radar anomaly” and sent fighter jets to investigate. However, no objects related to the radar impact were detected, NORAD said.
Montana Sens. Steve Daines and John Tester both released statements saying they were in contact with Pentagon officials about the incident.
Asked why there have apparently been more balloon drops and related incidents recently, a US official said: “We are now more cautious.”
Rescues of the Chinese balloon in the Atlantic and the unidentified craft in Alaska are still underway. NORAD said in a statement Saturday that work in the High North is being disrupted by adverse weather.
“Arctic weather with wind chill, snow and limited daylight is a factor in this operation, and crews will adjust recovery operations to maintain safety,” the statement said. “Recovery Activities Occurring in Sea Ice.”
White House and Pentagon officials still do not have a positive identification or country of origin of the object shot over Alaska, and have not confirmed that Friday’s incident was a Chinese-made surveillance balloon that hit the coast of South Carolina. .
Sue Allan, Lee Hudson, Joseph Gideon, Ji-Ann Lum, Lara Seligman and Alex Ward contributed to this report.