A US fighter plane shot down an unidentified object in Canada on Saturday in a joint operation by the countries, the second shooting down by Washington after shooting down a suspected Chinese spy balloon a week ago.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he himself ordered the downing of the plane, in the latest in a series of air raids.
“Canadian and United States Air Forces acted together and a United States F-22 fired at the object,” Trudeau tweeted.
The prime minister reported having spoken with US President Joe Biden about the event while Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand did the same with her US counterpart, Lloyd Austin.
The two of us “reaffirm that we will always defend our sovereignty together,” Anand tweeted.
The operation, involving planes from Canada and the United States, came after the United States said on Wednesday that China has “a fleet” of spy balloons on five continents.
“President Biden authorized a US fighter assigned to the US Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to work with Canada to shoot down a high-altitude object over northern Canada today,” Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said in a statement.
An F-22 fighter monitoring the object fired an AIM 9X missile that shot it down, the note added.
The White House said Biden and Trudeau “trusted NORAD and the United States Northern Command with a strong and effective partnership and agreed to continue their close cooperation to detect, track, and defend our airspace.”
The device was shot down on Saturday over the Yukon region, bordering Alaska, where US fighters shot down another object on Friday, off the north coast of the state, near the city of Deadhorse.
Search and recovery operations were continuing on Saturday but were hampered by “wind chill, snow and low sunlight,” the US Northern Command said in a statement.
“The recovery activities are carried out on sea ice,” the text indicates, adding that the Pentagon “did not provide further details (…) of the object, including its capabilities, purpose, or origin.”
Shortly after this operation, the United States reported that it was closing the airspace of the state of Montana after detecting an object that “could interfere with commercial air traffic”, although minutes later it said that this alert was due to a radar failure.
Last month a giant balloon carrying electronic materials – which the Pentagon claimed were for espionage purposes – flew over Canada and the United States, sparking a diplomatic incident. China acknowledged that the device was its own, although it stated that it was for meteorological purposes and that it went off course.
The balloon traversed the airspace of Alaska, Canada and much of the United States, prompting the cancellation of a rare trip by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to China.
The balloon, according to Washington, passed over several sensitive US military installations, some with nuclear-type intercontinental ballistic missile silos.
US officials said images of the balloon showed it had surveillance equipment that could intercept communications, as well as solar panels to power multiple sensors.