A US fighter plane on Saturday shot down a high-altitude unidentified flying object over North-western Canada's Yukon region.
The Saturday's shoot-down is the second such incident in North America in two days. Earlier on Friday, a US fighter shot down a high-altitude unidentified object over Alaska in the United States.
The US and Canadian fighter aircraft were deployed jointly to hunt the unidentified object. Eventually, a US F-22 fighter took it down. The Canadian forces are searching for its remains on the ground.
Here we explain what's known so far about these unidentified objects, how the North American security officials are on the edge, and what makes the ongoing episode so intriguing.
What's known so far of latest shootdown
The Saturday's shoot-down is the second such incident in two days. A similar object was shot down on Friday over USA's Alaska which is yet to be retrieved.
The US Department of Defense (DoD) on Saturday said the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) first detected the unidentified object on Friday over Alaska. The NORAD is the joint US-Canada air-defence command.
The NORAD tracked the object as it entered Canada. The DoD said US President Joe Biden Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held consultation and authorised its shoot-down.
The DoD said, "Two F-22 aircraft from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska monitored the object over US airspace...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 US F-22 shot down the object in Canadian territory using an AIM 9X missile following close coordination between US and Canadian authorities."
Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand said the object was at the height of 40-50,000 feet and was "small, cylindrical" in shape.
In a statement, the White House said Biden was constantly briefed on the object since Friday.
The White House said, "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 leaders [Biden and Trudeau] discussed the importance of recovering the object in order to determine more details on its purpose or origin."
The nature and the origin of the downed aircraft are not yet known.
Object interfered with fighters, had no propulsion: Reports
The object shot down over Canada is the second object to have been shot down in North America. There are little details about both the objects. However, both the objects are cylindrical in shape. The object downed over Alaska is also known to be unmanned, according to White House national security spokesperson John Kirby.
Some interesting details have emerged about these objects. US pilots have given differing accounts of the objects downed over Alaska on Friday, according to reports.
The CNN reported, "Pilots gave different accounts of what they observed after coming near the object, a source briefed on the intelligence told CNN; some pilots said it 'interfered with their sensors', but other pilots said they didn’t experience that."
ABC News reported that the pilots did not see any propulsion on the object over Alaska. In simple terms, a propulsion system is a machine that produces thrust to push the aircraft around.
"ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz first reported that when fighters were scrambled, the pilots did visuals, got images and said there was no sign the object had propulsion. It was described as 'cylindrical and silver-ish gray' and seemed to be floating, a US official said," reported ABC News.
False alarm over US state of Montana
There was a case of false alarm over the skies of US state of Montana amid the monitoring and shooting of unidentified objects.
The NORAD observed suspicious activity in the skies above Montana and the US government restricted flight activity in the region and deployed fighters. However, nothing was found.
The NORAD said, "NORAD detected radar anamoly and sent fighter aircraft to investigate. Those aircraft did not identify any object to correlate to the radar hits. NORAD will continue to monitor the situation."
The airspace restrictions were subsequently lifted.
Statement from NORAD & U.S. Northern Command pic.twitter.com/aY1VXRCpEs— North American Aerospace Defense Command (@NORADCommand) February 12, 2023
US FBI to investigate downed object
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are going to investigate the downed objects. Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said FBI will be "working closely with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police".
In a tweet, Trudeau said the Canadian forces will recover and further analyse the downed unidentified object.
I spoke with President Biden this afternoon. Canadian Forces will now recover and analyze the wreckage of the object. Thank you to NORAD for keeping the watch over North America.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) February 11, 2023
These unidentified objects have come at a time when there is increased conversation and reporting over Unexplained Aerial Phenomena (UAPs), which was earlier commonly called unidentified flying object (UFO).
Lately, US government reports have shown that there have been a large number of UAP sightings in recent years and no explanation could be attributed to several incidents, such as an orb found flying over Iraq. Though UAPs or earlier UFOs are commonly associated with extraterrestrial or alien activity, these are any and all aerial activities that cannot be explained or traced to an origin.
Journalist and author Garrett M Graff noted in a tweet that the association of FBI with the investigation suggests that the US government believes there is no alien or extraterrestrial link of the downed objects.
"The Pentagon statements say the FBI is involved in the Canadian shootdown investigation — that implies a Earthly counterintelligence mission. The FBI has historically NOT been involved in extraterrestrial UFO investigations...the FBI’s involvement pretty clearly hints that the US/Canada/NORAD knows or believes these UFOs to be nation-state devices. So don’t worry about aliens yet," said Graff, the author or upcoming book UFO: The Inside Story of the US Government's Search for Alien Life Here―and Out There.