On Saturday, a U.S. F-22 fighter jet shot down an unknown cylindrical object flying in the sky over Canada. This is the second shootdown in two days, amid a week-long global focus over Chinese spying balloons.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada declared the shootdown in the Yukon region in the north and directed that the wreckage be recovered and examined. Minister of Defense Anita Anand would not guess the source of the object but highlighted that it was cylindrical, smaller than the balloon shot down off South Carolina a week ago, and flying at 40,000 feet.
The Pentagon reported that the North American Aerospace Defense Command noticed the object over Alaska on Friday night. U.S. jets from the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska, tracked the object as it crossed into Canadian airspace, and CF-18 and CP-140 aircraft from Canada joined the formation. The U.S. F-22 used an AIM 9X missile to shoot the object down, with close collaboration between the U.S. and Canada.
President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed the importance of recovering the object to gain more information regarding its purpose and origin. President Biden authorized the U.S. military to cooperate with Canada in taking down the high-altitude craft.
On Friday, President Biden ordered to shoot down an unidentified flying object near Deadhorse, Alaska. In response, the U.S. military has not said much about what, if anything, has been uncovered during recovery operations in Alaska.
Information released by the Pentagon included the size of the object, which was said to be similar to that of a small car, and its flying altitude. It was also remarked that it had no maneuverability and was most likely unmanned. As of yet, there is no additional detail regarding its capabilities, purpose, or origin.
This follows an earlier incident on February 4th, when a U.S. F-22 fighter jet shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon over the South Carolina coast. The Chinese government has identified it as a civilian research vessel, leading to criticism of President Biden for not shooting it down sooner. The U.S. military had argued that waiting to shoot it down until it was over the ocean was due to the risk of debris falling and causing injuries.
In the wake of the shootdown, U.S. personnel have been searching for debris and electronic hardware from the balloon estimated to have been 200 feet tall. The Pentagon has said that a large portion of the balloon has already been retrieved or located, hinting at the possibility of more information soon.