What we know about the ‘unidentified’ objects shot down over North America
Two unidentified objects have been shot down over North America in the past two days in the aftermath of the Chinese surveillance balloon that was taken down over the Atlantic Ocean after crossing the United States last week.
The U.S. military shot down the first object in Alaskan airspace on Friday, causing it to land in U.S. waters, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ordered the North American Aerospace Defense Command to shoot down an unidentified object over the territory of Yukon on Saturday.
Officials are working to recover the wreckage of both objects, which they hope will give more information about their origins and purposes.
John Kirby, the White House’s national security spokesperson, said the object that was flying over Alaska was traveling at 40,000 feet, which is about the maximum height that commercial airliners fly at. He said the height the object was traveling at caused it to pose a “reasonable threat” to civilian flight safety.
President Biden ordered it shot down, and U.S. Northern Command took it down at 1:45 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
A U.S. official told CNN that F-35 fighter jets started investigating the object on Thursday. Kirby said the jets could gain only “limited” information about the object, as they travel at fast speeds.
Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the press secretary for the Pentagon, told reporters in a briefing that the object was about the size of a “small car” and was not similar in size or shape to the Chinese balloon seen last week.
Kirby said the object did not appear to be self-maneuvering and was at the “mercy of prevailing winds,” causing it to be less predictable than the Chinese balloon. Officials said they believed the balloon shot down last weekend had some amount of self-maneuverability.
Officials added that the object was taken down by an F-22 fighter using an AIM-9X, which are the same type of aircraft and missile that took down the Chinese balloon, according to CNN. An official told the outlet that the object did not appear to have any surveillance equipment.
Northern Command said in a press release on Saturday that arctic conditions, including wind chill, snow and limited daylight, are a “factor” in the recovery operation. It said personnel are adjusting their operations to ensure safety.
Trudeau announced the second object was shot down on Twitter. He said the North American Aerospace Defense Command took it down over Yukon, a Canadian territory that is sparsely populated.
The White House said in a statement that it was aware of the object for the 24 hours leading up to it being shot down, and Biden continuously received briefings on it.
Biden and Trudeau spoke by phone and agreed that the object should be recovered for U.S. and Canadian officials to learn more about its origin and purpose.
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