The Defense Department and White House said NORAD and Canada took down another high-altitude balloon “out of an abundance of caution and at the recommendation of their militaries” after consultation between the countries’ leaders.
“Following a call between the Prime Minister of Canada and the President of the United States, President Biden authorized U.S. fighter aircraft assigned to North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to work with Canada to take down a high-altitude airborne object over northern Canada today,” Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement this evening. “NORAD detected the object over Alaska late Friday evening. Two F-22 aircraft from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska monitored the object over U.S. airspace with the assistance of Alaska Air National Guard refueling aircraft, tracking it closely and taking time to characterize the nature of the object.”
Ryder said that “monitoring continued today as the object crossed into Canadian airspace, with Canadian CF-18 and CP-140 aircraft joining the formation to further assess the object.”
“A U.S. F-22 shot down the object in Canadian territory using an AIM 9X missile following close coordination between U.S. and Canadian authorities, to include a call today between Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Minister of Defence Anita Anand,” he continued. “As Canadian authorities conduct recovery operations to help our countries learn more about the object, the Federal Bureau of Investigation will be working closely with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.”
The White House said that President Biden spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “on the unidentified, unmanned object in North American air space” earlier today.
“The object was closely tracked and monitored by North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) over the last 24 hours and the President has been continually briefed by his national security team since the object was detected,” the White House statement said. “Out of an abundance of caution and at the recommendation of their militaries, President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau authorized it to be taken down. President Biden authorized US fighter aircraft assigned to NORAD to conduct the operation and a US F-22 shot down the object in Canadian territory in close coordination with Canadian authorities.”
“The leaders discussed the importance of recovering the object in order to determine more details on its purpose or origin,” the White House continued. “President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau commended NORAD’s and U.S. Northern Command’s strong and effective partnership and agreed to continue their close coordination to detect, track, and defend our airspace.”
On Feb. 4, U.S. F-22 fighter aircraft, assigned to U.S. Northern Command successfully brought down the high altitude surveillance balloon launched by and belonging to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) over the water off the coast of South Carolina in U.S. airspace. U.S. military commanders had determined downing the balloon while over land posed an undue risk to people across a wide area due to the size and altitude of the balloon and its surveillance payload.