US jets shoot down third unmanned aircraft within a week, this time over Canada

Written by on February 11, 2023

WASHINGTON — A U.S. F-22 fighter shot down a third unmanned aircraft in a week on Saturday, this time over northern Canada, according to a U.S. official.

In addiation, the Federal Aviation Administration and NORAD restricted airspace in central Montana Saturday and scrambled fighter jets after radar detected an unidentified object, NORAD announced late Saturday. Pilots did not identify an object that correlated with the radar signals and airspace was reopened. NORAD will continue to monitor the area, according to a statement.

The actions highlight the heightened tensions regarding incursions in U.S. airspace since the Chinese spy balloon and two other unidentified objects were discovered in the last week. 

The downing came as U.S. troops sought to recover a car-size object shot down Friday over Alaska. The three objects, including the Chinese spy balloon that drifted across sensitive military sites in the continental United States, have strained relations between the Americans and Chinese.

It’s not clear who operated the objects shot down Friday and Saturday, according to the U.S. official, who was not authorized to speak publicly. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced the news on Twitter Saturday. Trudeau said in a tweet he had spoken to U.S. President Joe Biden. 

“I ordered the take down of an unidentified object that violated Canadian airspace,” Trudeau said. North American Aerospace Defense Command then “shot down the object over the Yukon.”

Trudeau said that both Canadian and U.S. jets were deployed, but the U.S. jet hit the target.

MORE:Chinese spy balloon sought secret US communications signals, State Department says

VIDEO:What intelligence could the Chinese spy balloon gather as it flew over US weapons sites?

The Pentagon operates several sensitive military facilities in Alaska, including sophisticated radar systems and interceptors to track and take down ballistic missiles.

Meanwhile, troops from U.S. Northern Command’s Alaska Command and the Alaska National Guard sought to recover wreckage near Deadhorse, Alaska from the object shot down Friday by an F-22. Wind, snow and limited daylight have hindered efforts, according to a statement from the military.

Off the coast of South Carolina, dive crews have begun to retrieve objects from the ocean floor after the Chinese balloon was shot down there Feb. 4. The FBI is examining that debris.

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The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) detected the object over Alaska late Friday night, Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement Saturday evening. Two F-22 fighters from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage tracked and monitored the object as it crossed into Canada.

Two Canadian F-18 warplanes joined the pursuit Saturday, Ryder said. An F-22 shot it down over Canada with a AIM 9X sidewinder missile, Ryder said. The same type of warplane and weapon were used in the previous shoot downs.

Canadian authorities are recovering debris.

Contributing: Rebecca Morin, Joey Garrison, Josh Meyer

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