Washington: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the two latest unidentified objects shot down by US fighter jets over North America were high-altitude balloons.
Schumer said on Sunday he was briefed the previous night by White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. One of the objects was downed over Alaska on Friday and the other was brought down over Canada on Saturday, following the highly publicized shooting down of an alleged Chinese spy balloon off the South Carolina coast on Feb. 4.
Asked on ABC's "This Week" whether the two latest objects were balloons, Schumer said, "They believe they were, yes. But much smaller than the first one."
"Both of those "- one over Canada, one over Alaska "- were at 40,000 feet" and were determined to pose a risk to civil aviation, Schumer said.
Canadian search teams hunt for wreckage
Canadian investigators are hunting for the wreckage of the mysterious flying object shot down by a US fighter jet over Yukon territory, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday, as the US Senate's top lawmaker said that it - and another flying object shot down off the coast of Alaska - both appeared to be balloons.
"Recovery teams are on the ground, looking to find and analyze the object," Trudeau told reporters. He gave no hint as to what it was but said it "represented a reasonable threat to the security of civilian flight." "The security of citizens is our top priority and that's why I made the decision to have that unidentified object shot down," he said.
North America has been on high alert for aerial intrusions following the appearance of a white, eye-catching Chinese airship over American skies earlier this month.
The 200-foot-tall (60-meter-high) balloon caused an international incident, leading Secretary of State Antony Blinken to call off a planned trip to China only hours before he was set to depart.
Airspace closure latest move in objects saga
US officials has restricted the airspace over Lake Michigan citing a potential new threat to national security but soon reopened the skies, as the United States and Canada respond to multiple air intrusions.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced "temporary flight restrictions" over one of the Great Lakes along the US-Canada border, designating it as "national defense airspace," one day after a similar closure over Montana led to the scrambling of US fighter jets.
The Montana closure was ordered over a "radar anomaly," but no object was discovered.
Similarly, the Lake Michigan restrictions were lifted shortly after they were announced, apparently with no threat detected.
"The FAA briefly closed some airspace over Lake Michigan to support Department of Defense activities. The airspace has been reopened," the agency said in a statement to AFP.
Sunday's action over Lake Michigan marked the latest move to address a series of potential national security threats that began in late January with the discovery of a Chinese balloon - dubbed a spy craft by US officials - traversing the United States at high altitude.