Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he and President Biden had ordered the object violating Canadian airspace to be taken down, a day after another object was shot out of the sky near Alaska.
Helene Cooper is a Pentagon correspondent. She was previously an editor, diplomatic correspondent and White House correspondent, and was part of the team awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting, for its coverage of the Ebola epidemic. Edward Wong contributed reporting.
WASHINGTON — An American fighter jet, acting on the orders of President Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, shot down another unidentified flying object on Saturday, Canadian and American officials said, in the latest installment of the drama playing out in the skies of North America.
“I ordered the take down of an unidentified object that violated Canadian airspace,” Mr. Trudeau said in a statement posted on Twitter. He said an American F-22 with the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which is operated jointly by the United States and Canada, downed the object over the Yukon Territory.
As with the object that Mr. Biden ordered shot down near Alaska on Friday, officials said they had yet to determine just what had been blasted out of the sky over the Yukon, which borders Alaska.
Mr. Trudeau said he had spoken with Mr. Biden on Saturday afternoon. “Canadian Forces will now recover and analyze the wreckage of the object,” he said in his Twitter post.
The White House said in a statement Saturday that Mr. Biden and Mr. Trudeau had “discussed the importance of recovering the object in order to determine more details on its purpose or origin.”
Late Saturday, the Federal Aviation Administration briefly closed an area near Havre, Mont., to air traffic. The agency had used similar terminology a week earlier, just before the United States shot down a Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina. A joint statement from NORAD and U.S. Northern Command later said that NORAD had detected a radar anomaly and sent fighter aircraft to investigate, but they did not find anything that correlated with the radar hits. Officials have acknowledged that a heightened awareness could lead to false positives.
The object taken down over the Yukon was picked up on radar as it passed over Alaska late Friday, Pentagon officials said earlier on Saturday. NORAD sent American fighter jets, which were soon joined by Canadian fighters, to track it.
“Monitoring continued today as the object crossed into Canadian airspace,” said Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary. The F-22 shot down the object over Canadian territory using the same Sidewinder air-to-air missile that was used to take down two previous flying objects, General Ryder said, including the Chinese spy balloon a week earlier.
Defence Secretary Lloyd J. Austin spoke by phone Saturday with his Canadian counterpart, Anita Anand, General Ryder said. Speaking at a news conference that evening, Ms. Anand described the object as cylindrical and said it was smaller than the spy balloon taken down over the Atlantic the previous weekend.
It is believed to be rare for the United States to shoot down unidentified flying objects. But tensions in the U.S. have been high ever since the discovery of the Chinese spy balloon in American skies about two weeks ago, prompting Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken to cancel a planned trip to China. The Chinese government acknowledged that the dirigible was one of its own, though it said it was for weather research. Beijing said a similar balloon that was spotted over Central and South America the same weekend was also for civilian purposes.
American intelligence agencies have determined that China’s spy balloon program is part of a global surveillance effort designed to collect information on the military capabilities of countries around the world, according to three American officials.
The balloon flights, some officials believe, are part of an effort by China to hone its ability to gather data about American military bases — in which it is most interested — as well as those of other nations in the event of a conflict or rising tensions. U.S. officials said this week that the balloon program had operated out of multiple locations in China.
On Friday, U.S. officials disclosed that the military had shot down an unidentified flying object over the Arctic Ocean near Alaska. John F. Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said in a press briefing that the object had been downed “out of an abundance of caution.”
Troops with U.S. Northern Command were working on Saturday near Deadhorse, Alaska, with Alaska National Guard units, the F.B.I. and local law enforcement to recover the object and determine its nature, Defense Department officials said.
With the recovery activities taking place on sea ice, in freezing temperatures and with limited daylight, service members are being forced to move slowly, the officials said.
“We have no further details at this time about the object, including its capabilities, purpose and origin,” the Pentagon said in a statement about the Alaskan incident.
There were multiple theories in Washington as to the provenance of the objects, but several Biden administration officials cautioned that much remained unknown about the last two objects shot down. The United States has long monitored U.F.O.s that enter American airspace, and officials believe that surveillance operations by foreign powers, weather balloons or other airborne clutter may explain the most recent incidents of unidentified aerial phenomena — government-speak for U.F.O.s — as well as many episodes in past years.
However, nearly all of the incidents remain officially unexplained, according to a report that was made public in 2021. Intelligence agencies are set to deliver a classified document to Congress by Monday updating that report. The original document looked at 144 incidents between 2004 and 2021 that were reported by U.S. government sources, mostly American military personnel.
The object that U.S. military officials eventually identified as a Chinese surveillance balloon was first spotted over Alaska on Jan. 28, though it did not raise red flags at the time. It then floated into Canadian territory before re-entering American airspace over Idaho on Jan. 31. Military officials did not deem it a threat, and out of concern for civilians on the ground, waited to shoot it down until it reached the Atlantic on Feb. 4.
A version of this article appears in print on Feb. 12, 2023, Section A, Page 1 of the New York edition with the headline: Object in Skies Over Canada Is Shot Down.