US Jet Shoots Down Second High-Altitude Object Over Canada

(Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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UPDATE: This story has been updated to include a statement from the Department of Defense (DOD). 

A U.S. fighter jet shot down a second unidentified flying object over Canada on Saturday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.

Trudeau spoke with President Joe Biden this afternoon after North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which is responsible for joint U.S.-Canada aerospace warning and defense, identified the object in Canadian airspace, the leader said in a statement. Canadian and U.S. jets mobilized to intercept the object, and at Trudeau’s order and Biden’s authorization it was downed by a U.S. F-22 jet, U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder confirmed in a statement.

“A U.S. F-22 shot down the object in Canadian territory using an AIM 9X missile following close coordination between U.S. and Canadian authorities, to include a call today between Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Minister of Defence Anita Anand,” Ryder said. (RELATED: US Conducts Nuclear Missile Test Launch)

The object was shot down at 3:41 p.m. Eastern Standard Time over central Yukon at an altitude of 40,000 feet, Anand said. The object is believed to be “cylindrical in shape” and smaller than the Chinese spy balloon downed off the coast of South Carolina but “potentially similar,” she added.

The Canadian military will recover the debris from the object, Trudeau added. The FBI and Canadian Royal Mounted Police will cooperate to help both countries learn more about the object, Ryder said.

NORAD had identified an object traversing Alaskan territory Friday evening, Ryder said. Two F-22 aircraft monitored the object, “tracking it closely and taking time to characterize the nature of the object,” as it crossed into sovereign Canadian airspace Saturday, when two Canadian jets joined the sortie.

“U.S. military aircraft are currently operating from Alaska and Canada in support of [NORAD] activities. NORAD confirms that we have positively identified a high-altitude airborne object over Northern Canada,” the command said in a statement earlier Friday, CNN reported.

NORAD did not provide further details on activities or the object in question.

The event happened roughly one day after U.S. jets assigned to U.S. Northern Command took down a high-altitude object off the northern coast of Alaska at Biden’s order. U.S. officials said the object was traveling at an altitude of 40,000 feet and could therefore pose a threat to commercial air traffic, justifying a military response.

The object was first spotted on Feb. 9 and tracked as it entered U.S. airspace and traveled in a northeasterly direction, according to Ryder.

NORAD said in a statement Saturday that recovery efforts for the object were ongoing as the icy conditions permitted.

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