“Unidentified object” shot down over Canada, Trudeau says

An “unidentified object” which “violated “Canadian airspace” was shot down over Canada Saturday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed. 

The object was shot down by a U.S. military F-22 fighter jet over the Yukon, Trudeau said. 

A U.S. official previously confirmed to CBS News Saturday that the object was detected by North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and appeared to be a “high-altitude balloon.” 

Trudeau tweeted that “Canadian and U.S. aircraft were scrambled” after he “ordered the take down” of the object by NORAD. 

In a statement to CBS News, Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said that the object was detected over Alaska on Friday night, and then monitored by two F-22 fighter jets with the assistance of the Alaska Air National Guard.

The jets were “tracking it closely and taking time to characterize the nature of the object,” Ryder said.   

On Saturday, after the object crossed into Canadian airspace, President Biden authorized the F-22 fighter jet, which is assigned to NORAD, to “take down a high-altitude airborne object over northern Canada.”

It was shot down with an AIM 9X missile following “close coordination between U.S. and Canadian authorities,” Ryder said.  

As Canada conducts recovery operations for the object, the FBI will assist the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with its investigation, Ryder disclosed. 

Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand wrote on Twitter Saturday that she spoke with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin regarding the object, and that they “reaffirmed that we’ll always defend our sovereignty together.”

This comes one day after “high altitude object” was shot down by the U.S. military over Alaska, and exactly one week after a Chinese spy balloon was shot down by the military off the South Carolina coast.

Prior to Saturday’s latest incident, NORAD said in a news release that search and recovery operations were underway on “sea ice” near Deadhorse, Alaska, where Friday’s object was shot down. Icy temperatures and arctic weather conditions were posing challenges to crews, however.

Recovery operations were also continuing for the Chinese spy balloon shot down Feb. 4 in the Atlantic Ocean, with crews using divers and underwater unmanned vehicles. Those efforts involved U.S. Northern Command, the U.S. Navy and the FBI.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Friday that the object shot down over Alaska was the size of a “small car.” It was taken down more easily than the Chinese spy balloon, Kirby said, which was larger than the Statute of Liberty.  

The Chinese spy balloon was part of a “larger Chinese surveillance balloon program” that has operated for several years and over multiple continents, the Pentagon said. That balloon, which was first spotted over Alaska on Jan. 28, transited across the U.S. mainland before being shot down. Bide administration officials said that decision to hold off on shooting it down was made due to the risk to civilians on the ground. 

— David Martin, Kathryn Watson and Caitlin Yilek contributed to this report. 

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