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US fighter jet shoots down object flying over Canada’s Yukon

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that on his order a US fighter jet shot down an “unidentified object” that was flying high over the Yukon, acting a day after the US took similar action over Alaska.

North American Aerospace Defense Command, the combined US-Canada organisation that provides shared defense of airspace over the two nations, detected the object flying at a high altitude Friday evening over Alaska, US officials said. It crossed into Canadian airspace on Saturday.

Trudeau spoke with President Joe Biden, who also ordered the object to be shot down. Canadian and US jets operating as part of NORAD were scrambled and it was a US jet that shot down the object.

Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand told a news conference in Ottawa that the object, flying at around 12 kilometres, had been shot down at 3:41 pm EST (2041 GMT), approximately 160 kilometres from the Canada-US border in the central Yukon.

A recovery operation was underway involving the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP.

Hours later, in the US, the Federal Aviation Administration said Saturday night it had closed some airspace in Montana to support Defense Department activities.

NORAD later said the closure, which lasted a little more than an hour, came after it had detected “a radar anomaly” and sent fighter aircraft to investigate. The aircraft did not identify any object to correlate to the radar hits, NORAD said.

F-22 fighter jets have now taken out three objects in the airspace above the US and Canada over seven days, a stunning development that is raising questions on just what, exactly, is hovering overhead and who has sent them.

READ MORE: Canada: Monitoring ‘potential second incident’ linked to spy balloon

Analysis in progress

While Trudeau described the object on Saturday as “unidentified,” Defense Minister Anand said it appeared to be a cylindrical object smaller than the one that was downed off the coast of South Carolina.

A NORAD spokesman, Major Olivier Gallant, said the military had determined what it was but would not reveal details.

Anand refused to speculate whether the object shot down over Canada came from China.

“We are continuing to do the analysis on the object and we will make sure that analysis is thorough,” she said. “It would not be prudent for me to speculate on the origins of the object at this time.”

Anand said to her knowledge this was the first time NORAD had downed an object in Canadian airspace.

“The importance of this moment should not be underestimated,” she said. “We detected this object together and we defeated this object together.”

Trudeau said Canadian forces would recover the wreckage for study. The Yukon is westernmost Canadian territory and the among the least populated part of Canada.

US shoots down unidentified ‘object the size of small car’ over Alaska

Objects shot down over Alaska, South Carolina

Just about a day earlier, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said an object roughly the size of a small car was shot out of the skies above remote Alaska. Officials couldn’t say if it contained any surveillance equipment, where it came from or what purpose it had.

On February 4, US officials shot down a large white balloon off the coast of South Carolina.

The balloon was part of a large surveillance programme that China has been conducting for “several years,” the Pentagon has said.

China responded that it reserved the right to “take further actions” and criticised the US for “an obvious overreaction and a serious violation of international practice.”

READ MORE: US says China balloon could collect intelligence signals

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