Trudeau says he ordered takedown of ‘unidentified’ object shot down by US fighter over northern Canada
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he ordered the takedown of an “unidentified” object that had crossed into Canada’s airspace on Saturday.
It is the second object in two days to be shot down over North America.
Trudeau said in a tweet that the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which protects the airspace above the United States and Canada, downed the object after U.S. and Canadian aircraft were scrambled.
He confirmed that a U.S. F-22 fighter aircraft shot the object down over Yukon, a relatively sparsely populated territory in northwestern Canada. He said Canadian forces will recover and analyze the wreckage of the object and thanked NORAD for keeping watch over the continent.
Trudeau added that he also spoke to President Biden about the object.
The White House said in a release that NORAD tracked the object for 24 hours, and Biden was continually briefed on it by his national security team.
“Out of an abundance of caution and at the recommendation of their militaries, President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau authorized it to be taken down,” the release states.
Biden and Trudeau also discussed the need to recover the object to learn more about its origin and purpose, according to the statement.
The incident comes one day after U.S. officials said they shot down an object flying over Alaskan airspace Friday. The object was traveling 40,000 feet above the ground, which officials said posed a “reasonable” threat to commercial aircraft, and landed in U.S. waters.
White House spokesperson John Kirby said the U.S. was still collecting information about whether another country operated it or if a private individual or company owned it. He said officials did not know what the object’s purpose was and did not have a more specific description of it than calling it an “object.”
Yukon borders Alaska on the state’s eastern side.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in a statement Saturday commended U.S. forces for taking the object over Canada down. She said she appreciates all Air Guardsmen who are involved in the efforts to recover the debris, which will allow the U.S. to know what the objects are and where they came from.
“As we learn more about these objects, I will continue to encourage maximum transparency so that Alaskans have the greatest possible understanding of what they are and what we are doing, on the front line of our nation’s defense, to take them safely out of the sky,” she said.
Both of these incidents happened in the aftermath of the Chinese surveillance balloon that traveled across the United States last week. It was first seen over the Aleutian Islands of Alaska and eventually traveled from the airspace over Montana and across the country until it was shot down over the coast of South Carolina.
The U.S. military downed the balloon down when it was over the Atlantic Ocean. Officials decided against shooting it down earlier based on concerns about debris from the balloon harming people on the ground.
The Chinese government has denied that the balloon was meant for surveillance, instead saying that it was a weather balloon that was blown off course by wind. U.S. officials have rejected that assertion.
The incident has heightened tensions between the U.S. and China as Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a planned visit to the country after discovering the balloon. A top Chinese defense official also refused a phone call from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to discuss the balloon last week.
Updated on Feb. 12 at 6:35 a.m.
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