OTTAWA: A US F-22 fighter jet shot down an unidentified object over Canada on Saturday, the second such shootdown in as many days, as North America appeared on heightened alert following a week-long Chinese spying balloon saga that drew the global spotlight.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau announced the shootdown on Twitter and said it took place over the Yukon territory in the country’s north. He said Canadian forces would recover and analyse the wreckage from the object.
Trudeau also said he had spoken with US president Joe Biden about the incident, a day after Biden ordered a shootdown of an unidentified flying object over sea ice near Deadhorse, Alaska. The US military on Saturday was still tight-lipped about what, if anything, it had learned as recovery efforts were underway.
The Pentagon on Friday offered only a few details, including that the object was the size of a small car, it was flying at about 40,000 feet and could not manoeuvre and appeared to be unmanned. US pilots and intelligence officials have been trying to learn about the object since it was first spotted on Thursday.
“We have no further details at this time about the object, including its capabilities, purpose, or origin,” Northern Command said on Saturday.
It noted difficult arctic weather conditions, including wind chill, snow, and limited daylight that hinder search and recovery efforts.
“Personnel will adjust recovery operations to maintain safety,” Northern Command said.
On Feb 4, a US F-22 fighter jet brought down what the US government called a Chinese surveillance balloon off the coast of South Carolina following its week-long journey across the US and portions of Canada. China’s government has said it was a civilian research vessel.
Some US lawmakers criticised Biden for not shooting down the Chinese balloon sooner. The US military had recommended waiting until it was over the ocean out of fear of injuries from falling debris.