LONDON – A third aerial object which has violated North American airspace in the past fortnight has been intercepted in Canadian airspace and shot down by a US F-22 fighter today.
The object which was described by Canadian Minister of National Defence Anita Anand in a subsequent press briefing as what “appears to be a small, cylindrical object and smaller than the one that was downed off the coast of [South] Carolina” on February 4.”
The object had been detected by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) flying at high altitude in Canadian airspace.
In a social media post Minister Anand furthered: “Today, a NORAD Command aircraft shot down an unidentified object that violated Canadian airspace. Canadian and U.S. aircraft were scrambled and a U.S. F-22 fired at the object.”
According to The Wall Street Journal the US president Joe Biden together with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took the joint decision to shoot down the aerial object.
US officials told the publication that the object shot down appeared to be “a small metallic balloon with a tethered payload.”
A spokesman for NORAD, Maj. Olivier Gallant, has said that the military has determined what the object was but would not reveal details.
Montana airspace closure
Following the incident the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a NOTAM advising a temporary restriction on airspace over a portion of Montana around Havre, close to the US border with Canada.
A NORAD statement informing of the temporary airspace restriction advised that a radar anomaly had been detected and fighter aircraft were deployed to investigate. The aircraft did not find anything correlating to the radar hits.
It is understood that the airspace restriction has now been lifted.
Today’s interception over Canada now becomes the third incident of a high-altitude airspace intrusion over North American airspace in the past two weeks. In each instance the object was intercepted and shot down by a US F-22 fighter jet.
First incident February 4
The first incident occurred in the first week of February. Between January 28 to February 4, 2023, a Chinese-operated, large white high-altitude balloon was monitored as it traversed North American airspace, including the contiguous United States.
On February 4, the US. Air Force shot down the balloon over US territorial waters off the coast of South Carolina, on the order of President Joe Biden.
Second incident February 11
Last week saw the second incident – the interception and downing of an aerial object over Alaska. In that instance the object was intercepted at 40,000 feet – a lower altitude than the first interception, and a greater risk to commercial air traffic.
In a subsequent press conference, President Biden stated that the “high-altitude object” that was just shot down over Alaska was “much, much smaller” than the Chinese spy balloon and had “no significant payload.”
Mr Biden said it was “roughly the size of a small car, as opposed to … two or three buses size.”
NORAD have now issued an official statement on the downing of the Alaska aerial object, notably stating: “We have no further details at this time about the object, including its capabilities, purpose, or origin.”
This is a continuing story. Please check back for updates.