Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he has been briefed on the high-altitude object that was found violating American airspace and was shot down by the U.S. military off the coast of Alaska on Feb. 10.
“This afternoon, an object that violated American airspace was brought down. I was briefed on the matter and supported the decision to take action,” Trudeau wrote on his Twitter account.
He added that the Canadian and U.S. military and intelligence services will always work together to “keep people safe,” including through the bi-national defence organization, North American Aerospace Defense Command.
The unknown flying object, which the U.S. military has been tracking over the past 24 hours, was shot down on orders from U.S. President Joe Biden, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said in a press conference earlier on Feb. 10.
He said the object was flying at an altitude of about 40,000 feet (13,000 metres), which posed a “reasonable threat” to the safety of civilian flights. The object fell within U.S. territorial waters.
Kirby said the object was roughly the size of a small car, which is much smaller than the massive suspected Chinese spy balloon downed by Air Force fighter jets last week off the coast of South Carolina after it transited over sensitive military sites across the United States. The spy balloon had also entered Canadian territory.
The object flew over one of the most desolate places in the nation in Alaska’s North Slope, where the two closest communities—Deadhorse and Kaktovik—have a combined population of about 300 people.
Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters on Feb. 10 that an F-22 fighter aircraft based at Alaska’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson shot down the object using an AIM-9X short-range air-to-air missile, the same type used to take down the balloon nearly a week ago.
The successful and consecutive downing of the two objects in recent weeks reflects heightened concerns over China’s surveillance program and public pressure on the White House to take a tough stand against Beijing, reported The Canadian Press.
The Pentagon, however, declined to provide a more precise description of the object on Feb. 10, only saying that U.S. pilots who flew up to observe it determined it didn’t appear to be manned.
The Liberal government has also kept tight-lipped about the incident, as they have with the downing of the Chinese spy balloon.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino previously said that Ottawa didn’t tell the public about China’s spy balloon until after it was reported by the U.S. government and media outlets because there were “lives at stake.”
“There are lives at stake. There are techniques at stake. This is complex stuff,” Mendicino said while testifying at the Canada-China House of Commons committee on Feb. 6.