On Saturday, Canada’s Defence Minister, Anita Anand, spoke about the downing of an “unidentified object” over Yukon. The object was shot down after violating Canadian airspace, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement. North American Aerospace Defense Command confirmed the incident, stating that they were monitoring the object and that it could potentially be another spy balloon.
Anand stated that it was too early to determine the origin of the object and that they were still collecting debris for analysis. She noted that the object was similar to one that was shot down off the coast of North Carolina, but smaller in size and cylindrical in nature. During a press conference, Anand announced that the object was taken down by aircraft assigned to NORAD, and recovery operations were underway.
Trudeau confirmed that both Canadian and U.S. aircraft were scrambled and that a U.S. F-22 successfully fired at the object. The object was downed approximately 100 miles from the Canada-U.S. border over central Yukon. Anand emphasized the significance of this event as it marked the first time NORAD had taken down an object in Canadian airspace. The object was flying at a height of approximately 40,000 feet and posed a reasonable threat to the safety of civilian flight.
Chief of the Defence Staff, Gen. Wayne Eyre, added that the instructions given to the pilots of the aircraft were to take a shot when they had the best opportunity. In a phone call between Trudeau and Biden, the leaders discussed the importance of recovering the object to determine its purpose or origin. The White House released a readout of the call, stating that President Biden had been continuously briefed by his national security team and that he authorized the U.S. fighter aircraft assigned to NORAD to take down the object in close coordination with Canadian authorities.
Global News reported that NORAD was monitoring one or two more objects that could be potential spy balloons. NORAD confirmed the report and stated that military aircraft were currently operating from Alaska and Canada in support of their activities. This incident followed the downing of a “high-altitude object” over Alaska, near Canada’s northern border, on Friday. A spokesperson for the Pentagon stated that the balloon was believed to be heading towards Canadian airspace.
Anand stated that the object shot down on Friday had not entered Canadian airspace and that the government had monitored the craft and determined that it posed no imminent risk to Canadians. She added that the government was carefully watching the craft and making decisions jointly with the U.S. to protect Canadians. American security and defence officials have accused China of using surveillance balloons to spy on countries across five continents. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that his government has briefed dozens of countries about the Chinese balloon program, while Beijing maintains that the balloon shot down last week was for civilian purposes, conducting meteorological research.