The unknown high-altitude object that the US shot down near Alaska on Friday was heading into Canadian airspace, sources told CTV News.
“The general area would be right in the very, very northeastern part of Alaska, right near the Alaska-Canada border,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Friday. “We’re calling this an object, because that’s the best description we have at the moment. We don’t know who it belongs to.”
On Friday afternoon, US officials announced that an F-22 fighter jet shot down the object off the coast of Alaska, not far from the Canadian border. The order to shoot it down came directly from US President Joe Biden, just hours after Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand met her US counterpart at the Pentagon.
“Today at the Pentagon, United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and I participated in a call with NORAD Commander General Glen VanHerck about a high-altitude object detected over Alaska,” he said. Anand in a statement to CTV News. “The object did not fly into Canadian airspace. During this conversation, I conveyed Canada’s support for taking action to shoot down this object. NORAD deployed aircraft to track and monitor the object and provided important information to decision makers, and the object was taken earlier today by United States Northern Command.”
About the size of a small car, the object was first detected Thursday night. an american source told ABC News it was “cylindrical and silvery grey” and appeared to be floating. No details have emerged about its origins and purpose. Traveling at 40,000 feet (12,000 meters) and apparently unmanned and unable to maneuver, it was deemed a reasonable threat to the safety of civilian flights and was shot down over the Arctic Ocean.
“Civilian aircraft operate at a variety of ranges, up to 40,000 to 45,000 feet (12,000 to 13,700 meters),” said the Pentagon press secretary and Air Force brigadier. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters on Friday. “So there was reasonable concern that this could pose a threat or potential danger to civilian air traffic.”
Recovery efforts are now underway in a supposedly frozen stretch of the Beaufort Sea.
“This afternoon, an object that violated American airspace was shot down,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. he said in a Tweet on Friday night. “I was informed about the matter and I supported the decision to take action.”
The incident follows the February 4 shooting down of a suspected Chinese spy balloon that spent a week traversing Canada and the US.
“I think we shouldn’t worry,” said the CTV military analyst and retired Canadian major general. David Fraser told CTV News Channel. “The US military and the Canadian military will be watching extremely carefully, looking for more of these things that are entering our airspace and removing them if they are a threat.”
Retired Canadian Senior General Mate. Denis Thompson hopes US officials will keep their mouths shut until they know more about the object.
“What’s good to keep in mind is that it would have been detected by Norad’s Northern Warning System, and that’s what would have triggered this decision-making process that ended up getting shot down,” Thompson told CTV News Channel.
A chain of 52 radar stations stretching 3,000 miles from Alaska to Labrador, the 1980s Northern Warning System acts as a “tripwire” for the northern reaches of the continent. It is overseen by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, better known as Norad, which is a joint Canadian-US defense group.
“But wouldn’t it be ironic if this was a Russian balloon that floated towards us only to poke us in the eye?” Thompson speculated. “And that’s not unusual. Russia has consistently challenged Norad airspace with its strategic bombers, and Canadian and American jets routinely go around them. So maybe that’s about it.”
With files from the Parliamentary Office of CTV News and the Associated Press