(CNSNews.com) – For the second time in two days, U.S. fighter jets on Saturday shot down another unidentified object over North America, this time over Canada’s far northwestern Yukon, according to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“I ordered the take down of an unidentified object that violated Canadian airspace,” Trudeau tweeted. [The North American Aerospace Defense Command] shot down the object over the Yukon.”
“Canadian and U.S. aircraft were scrambled, and a U.S. F-22 successfully fired at the object,” he said. “I spoke with President Biden this afternoon. Canadian Forces will now recover and analyze the wreckage of the object. Thank you to NORAD for keeping the watch over North America.”
Colorado-based NORAD’s mission is to counter airborne threats to North America – not just the United States. Its commander reports to both the U.S. and Canadian military commands.
The White House said in a statement NORAD had tracked the new “unidentified, unmanned object” over the past 24 hours, with the president’s national security team keeping him continually briefed.
“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. President Biden authorized U.S. fighter aircraft assigned to NORAD to conduct the operation and a US F-22 shot down the object in Canadian territory in close coordination with Canadian authorities.”
The statement said Biden and Trudeau in their phone conversation “discussed the importance of recovering the object in order to determine more details on its purpose or origin.”
The latest incident came a day after a U.S. Air Force F-22 shot down a “high-altitude object” that has yet to be identified, off the coast of northern Alaska.
In that instance, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby attributed Biden’s order to shoot it down to concerns that the object, which was at an altitude of 40,000 feet, “posed a reasonable threat to the safety of civilian flight.”
Pentagon press secretary Patrick Ryder said the object shot down on Friday was about the size of a small car, but said no further details were available, “including any description of its capabilities, purpose or origin.”
(An unnamed defense official told ABC News the object downed off Alaska was “cylindrical and silver-ish gray.”)
The object landed on sea ice near the Alaskan town of Deadhorse, where U.S. Northern Command said on Saturday recovery operations involving NORTHCOM, the Alaskan National Guard were continuing, in coordination with local law enforcement and the FBI.
“Arctic weather conditions, including wind chill, snow and limited daylight, are a factor in this operation, and personnel will adjust recovery operations to maintain safety.”
“Recovery operations are continuing on sea ice,” NORTHCOM said. “We have no further details at this time about the object, including its capabilities, purpose, or origin.”
The Pentagon has emphasized that the object shot down on Friday differed in shape and size from the significantly larger Chinese spy shot down by an F-22 over Atlantic waters off South Carolina on February 4.
The spy balloon incident continues to make waves, both in U.S.-China relations and politically at home, where Republican lawmakers remain troubled despite congressional briefings by defense officials.
The balloon was allowed to fly over U.S. and Canadian airspace for a week before it was shot down with a Sidewinder missile last Saturday.
The administration justified the delay by saying the Pentagon had recommended waiting until the object was over sea rather than risk of debris harming Americans on the ground. It said Biden had also ordered close observation of the balloon as it moved through U.S. airspace to learn more about China’s surveillance methods and program.
The administration also said measures had been taken to minimize the balloon’s ability to collect intelligence on sensitive U.S. military sites it passed over, including a U.S. Air Force base in Montana where silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles are located.
Beijing has denied that the balloon was on a spying mission, maintaining that it was a “civilian” airship engaged in meteorological research, which it claims blew off course – an assertion flatly rejected by the Pentagon.
NORTHCOM said on Saturday the U.S. Navy effort to recover the remains of the spy balloon is continuing, with the FBI taking custody of debris delivered to locations onshore.
“We have located a significant amount of debris so far that will prove helpful to our further understanding of this balloon and its surveillance capabilities,” Ryder said on Friday, but declined to “go into specifics, due to classification reasons.”
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