Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday that efforts are still ongoing to recover wreckage from an object shot down by military forces on Feb. 12.
“It is important to highlight that the stretches of land in the Yukon where operations are being conducted are very remote, difficult to access, and especially given the current conditions,” Mendicino said, noting that he could not provide an estimate for how long the search might take. “Given the fact that there’s a lot of snow, a lot of wind, et cetera, you will appreciate that this is going to take some time.”
Mendicino also added that the Armed Forces, RCMP, and Coast Guard are “best situated” to answer questions.
On Feb. 13, one day after a fourth unidentified object was shot down by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), U.S. fighter jets, including two F-16s, two F-35s, and three other supporting aircraft, intercepted four Russian military aircraft flying close to Alaska’s airspace in the air defense identification zone (ADIZ). The ADIZ is not part of Alaska’s airspace, but is monitored by NORAD. NORAD stated that this sort of activity by Russian aircraft “occurs regularly, and is not seen as a threat, nor is the activity seen as provocative.” NORAD also stated that the Russian aircraft were in international airspace and did not enter into Canadian or U.S. sovereign airspace.
The intercept was not related to the objects shot down in recent weeks over North America. A balloon alleged to be a Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon was shot down on Feb. 4 over water off the coast of South Carolina. A second unidentified “high-altitude object,” said to be the size of a small car, was shot down on Feb. 10 by a U.S. F-22 aircraft off the coast of Alaska. The third object was identified flying over Canadian airspace on the afternoon of Feb. 11 and shot down at 3:41 p.m. ET, flying at about 40,000 feet north of Whitehorse, according to Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is now assisting Canada with recovering the wreckage in the Yukon. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Feb. 14 that the objects were balloons. NORAD Commander General Glen VanHerck said on Feb. 12 he wouldn’t categorize the objects as “balloons,” but said he is unable to describe how they stay aloft. “It could be a gaseous type of balloon inside a structure or it could be some type of a propulsion system. But clearly, they’re able to stay aloft,” he said.