20231202 canada
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Image Credit: AFP

Ottawa: A US fighter jet acting on the orders of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shot down an unidentified object over Canada on Saturday - the second such take-down in North American skies since the dramatic downing of a suspected Chinese spy balloon a week ago.

The operation marked the latest in a series of air incidents over North America, starting late last month when an alleged Chinese spy balloon crossed both Canada and the US mainland, intensifying a diplomatic rift with Beijing.

"Canadian and US aircraft were scrambled, and a US F-22 successfully fired at the object," Trudeau tweeted Saturday.

Trudeau said that Canadian forces in the Yukon "will now recover and analyze the wreckage of the object."

He said he spoke with US President Joe Biden over the latest incursion, while Canada's defense minister also said she spoke with the US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

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The two "reaffirmed that we'll always defend our sovereignty together," Canadian defense minister Anita Anand tweeted.

The object spotted on Saturday was shot down over the Yukon, which borders Alaska, where fighter jets downed another object Friday, off the US state's north coast near the village of Deadhorse.

Search and recovery operations for the remains of that object continued Saturday but were hindered by Arctic "wind chill, snow, and limited daylight," the Pentagon's Northern Command said in a statement.

"Recovery activities are occurring on sea ice," it said, adding that the Pentagon could offer "no further details... about the object, including its capabilities, purpose, or origin."

Diplomatic riff

Last month, a giant balloon carrying electronics - which the Pentagon described as a spy vessel - flew over Canada and the United States, sparking a diplomatic flare-up with China, which acknowledged ownership of what it said was a harmless weather balloon blown off course.

That balloon crossed into US airspace in Alaska on January 28, traversing Canada and much of the United States before it was shot down over the Atlantic Ocean off South Carolina on February 4.

The balloon's path took it over several US military installations, including ones with silos of nuclear-tipped missiles.

Biden's decision to allow the balloon to cross the mainland unimpeded before shooting it down over water was hammered by Republican lawmakers, some of whom said it should have been shot down upon entering US airspace.

Federal recovery teams, comprising both divers and unmanned remote-control minisubs, continue to survey for debris of the balloon in shallow coastal waters, the Northern Command statement said.

US officials say imagery of the balloon show it had surveillance equipment that could intercept telecommunications as well as a solar array to power multiple sensors.