Unidentified object shot down over Canada
Steph Deschamps / February 12, 2023
A U.S. fighter jet shot down an unidentified object over Canada on Saturday afternoon in a joint operation between Washington and Ottawa, marking a new incident in North American skies since the destruction of a suspected Chinese spy balloon last week.
Trudeau announced Saturday that an "unidentified object" was shot down while flying over the country's northwest, a day after the United States destroyed an object flying over Alaska.
Aircraft from both countries were dispatched to the scene, and an AIM 9X missile fired from a U.S. F-22 hit its target, Trudeau said.
U.S. President Joe Biden had authorized the aircraft, one of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) aircraft, to "work with Canada," Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said.
The neutralization of the object was validated by Mr. Biden and Mr. Trudeau by "concern of prudence and on the recommendation of their armed forces", said a statement from the White House.
The Canadian forces "will now recover and analyze the debris of the object," added the Canadian Prime Minister.
The craft, which flew at an altitude of about "40,000 feet" (12,200 meters), "had illegally entered Canadian airspace and posed a (possible) threat to the safety of civilian flights," Canada's Minister of National Defense, Anita Anand, told reporters.
The object was shot down "about 100 miles from the Canada-U.S. border," she added.
We (detected it) together and (defeated it) together" in NORAD, Anand said.
It was a "cylindrical device" smaller than the balloon destroyed in North Carolina last week, she said.
"At this time, we are still analyzing the object, so it would not be prudent for me to speculate on its origin," she added, before thanking the Pentagon and members of the Canadian and U.S. militaries for their cooperation.
Earlier in the afternoon, Anita Anand, had said on Twitter that she had exchanged with her American counterpart, the Secretary of Defense of the United States, Lloyd Austin, reaffirming that "we will always defend our sovereignty together".
Also Saturday night, a fighter jet was dispatched to investigate a "radar anomaly" over the U.S. state of Montana, the U.S. military said.
"This aircraft did not identify any objects (to) correlate radar returns," NORAD and U.S. Northern Command said, adding that they continue "to monitor the situation. »
The airspace of this territory in the northwest of the United States had been temporarily closed "to support the operations of the Department of Defense. The airspace has been reopened," the U.S. civil aviation regulator (FAA) said Saturday night.
Trudeau spoke with Biden about the target shot down over the Yukon, a territory in northwestern Canada bordering Alaska where U.S. forces destroyed another flying object Friday, "the size of a small car," because it posed "a threat to the safety of air traffic," according to John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council.
This is the second flying object shot down over North America by the United States in about 24 hours.
Search and recovery operations for the remains of the object destroyed Friday continued Saturday but were hampered by "chilly Arctic air, snow and limited daylight," the U.S. Northern Command said in a statement, adding that the Pentagon could not provide "any further details ... about the object, including its capabilities, purpose or origin. »
These incidents come a week after Washington destroyed a balloon off its Atlantic coast, which had flown over sensitive military sites and had been described by Beijing as a "civilian aircraft used for research purposes, mainly meteorological".
Images captured by U.S. military aircraft show that the Chinese balloon that flew over the United States last week was indeed equipped with spying tools and not intended for weather.
This diplomatic clash led the head of the American diplomacy Antony Blinken to postpone a rare visit to China.
The American authorities are still busy collecting the debris of the balloon in the Atlantic, near the coast of South Carolina.