Temporary flight restrictions over the US state of Montana were lifted after US Air Force (USAF) fighter jets investigated the state’s airspace.
The jets were scrambled following the discovery of a radar anomaly. Since no objects were found, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) lifted the restrictions, the agency said in a statement.
US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) about a restricted airspace over Montana on February 11, 2023.
The publication followed a series of encounters with high-altitude objects, suspected to be surveillance balloons, over the North American airspace.
“We are being more vigilant now,” an unnamed US official close to the matter said to Politico when asked about the increased frequency of such incidents.
In the afternoon of February 10, 2023, USAF F-22 fighter jets shot down a high-flying object off the coast of Alaska, US.
The object was detected a day earlier and tracked with the help of a ground radar until a decision to shoot it down was taken, reports suggest.
F-22s were scrambled and an AIM-9X Sidewinder was used, according to the reports. The object was “unmanned”, “balloon-like” and the size of a “small car”, officials are reported as saying.
According to the press release of US Northern Command, a recovery operation was launched immediately, with the aim of collecting debris of the object.
Interception over Canada
Yet another object was discovered on the same day in the North American airspace, according to a press release published by the White House.
After a discussion between the US president Joe Biden and the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a decision to shoot the object down was taken, the release states.
USAF F-22s and Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18s were scrambled, and the object was shot down by a F-22 over the Canadian territory of Yukon, near the US border.
Canadian authorities launched a recovery operation to collect the remains of the object, according to media reports.
A high-flying object, which US officials identified as a surveillance balloon launched by China, was identified in the US airspace in late January 2023.
The flight of the balloon attracted significant media interest as the object traversed the US and was shot down on February 4, 2023, by a F-22 fighter jet.
Following the incident, multiple US officials were reported as saying that numerous similar objects have been detected in the country’s airspace previously.
The officials described the balloons as a part of an extensive surveillance and reconnaissance campaign, waged by China.
Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAPs) have been at the forefront of public attention in recent years, with the US military issuing numerous reports and initiating several projects to study unrecognized intrusions into US airspace, often said to be connected to foreign surveillance campaigns.