WASHINGTON: The United States and Canada worked on Sunday (Feb. 12) to recover the remains of three mysterious objects shot down over their territory.
Reflecting heightened alertness, U.S. officials first announced the closure of airspace over Lake Michigan near the Canadian border on Sunday, then lifted restrictions.
A similar closure of Saturday’s skies over Montana caused a scramble for US fighter jets, which was also eventually lifted.
Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was heading to the western Yukon Territory on Sunday, when an unidentified object was shot down the day before.
The dramatic series of shootouts has shaken already strained U.S.-China relations.
On February 4, senior Republican Party members accused Beijing of “belligerent conduct” over the first balloon shot down off the US East Coast.
House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Michael McCall told CBS it was “done as a provocation to gather intelligence data and gather information about three major nuclear sites.”
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, one of the senior senators briefed by the government, told ABC that the two newest objects both look like balloons, but the first, larger one. “Much smaller,” he said.
Trudeau’s visit came a day after a US F-22 jet shot down a “high-altitude flying object” over the Yukon, about 100 miles north of the border, on orders from the prime minister and US President Joe Biden.
Canadian officials described it as small and cylindrical, about the size of a Volkswagen car.
Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit had been long planned, and he was already scheduled to meet with indigenous leaders, but in Ottawa on Sunday, some of those leaders were found with debris from an object that was shot down on Saturday. said it may have been affected by the fall of
A recovery team backed by a Canadian CP-140 patrol plane continued to search for debris in the Yukon Territory on Sunday, officials said.
The U.S. team was struggling with conditions in the Arctic as it searched near Deadhorse, Alaska, where an object was shot down on Friday.
Operations continue off the coast of South Carolina, and last week’s drama culminated when the first large balloon was shot down on February 4th.
Closing a weekend of military high alert, the North American Aerospace Defense Command tweeted that Sunday’s closure of Lake Michigan was “to ensure the safety of air traffic in the region where NORAD operates. “All flight restrictions have been lifted,” he said.
Saturday’s event in Montana didn’t come to fruition at the time, but US lawmakers only fueled the mystery of what happened.
Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana tweeted on Sunday that he was in contact with military officials.
Meanwhile, Republicans have harshly criticized Biden for allowing him to drift across the country potentially collecting sensitive information for days before the first balloon was shot down.
Schumer defended his treatment of Biden on Sunday, telling ABC that an analysis of the recovered debris would be a “big coup for the United States.”
But Mr. Biden faces bipartisan calls for greater transparency.
Jim Hymes, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told NBC: “I’m really concerned about why the administration isn’t more positive than it’s ever been.”
https://www.channelnewsasia.com/world/us-airspace-closures-come-amid-jitters-over-mystery-objects-3273336 US airspace closure comes amid unrest over mysterious object