By Melanie Sun
The temporary flight restriction from the FAA was issued for flights in an area about 50 by 50 nautical miles above Havre, Montana, near the Canadian border, the agency said. The notice reclassified the area as “national defense airspace.”
Within the hour, the binational North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which answers to both the U.S. and Canadian leaders, said that an operation with cooperation from the FAA was conducted to “ensure the safety of air traffic in the area during NORAD operations.”
NORAD said it had detected a “radar anomaly and sent fighter aircraft to investigate.”
Its aircraft, however, did not identify any object to correlate to the radar hits.
“NORAD will continue to monitor the situation,” it said in a statement at 8:28 p.m. CT.
“The restriction has been lifted,” it added.
The FAA issued similar actions in response to a suspected Chinese spy balloon that crossed the continental United States from Montana to South Carolina and was shot down earlier this month.
Earlier on Saturday, a U.S. F-22 fighter jet shot down an unidentified cylindrical object over Canada, the second such shootdown in as many days. Canada and the United States have been on heightened alert following an episode earlier this month where a suspected Chinese high-altitude spy balloon was tracked from Montana to South Carolina and then shot down off the coast.
Lawmakers had posted on Twitter that there was an unidentified object seen in Montana airspace Saturday.
Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) said the NORAD operation was because of “an object that could interfere with commercial air traffic.”
He said he would update Montanans with more information as it becomes available.
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) posted on Twitter that he was “aware of the object in Montana air space and remain in close contact with senior DOD and Administration officials.”
Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) posted: “I’m in direct contact with the Pentagon regarding the object in Montana’s airspace & will receive frequent updates. Montanans still have questions about the Chinese spy balloon that flew over our state last week. I’ll continue to demand answers on these invasions of U.S. airspace.”
Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte posted: “With questions about the Chinese spy balloon still unanswered, the Biden administration must be fully forthcoming with Montanans and all Americans.”
The White House, in a statement on Saturday, said that Biden and Trudeau have agreed to continue close coordination to “defend our airspace.”
“The leaders discussed the importance of recovering the object in order to determine more details on its purpose or origin,” it said.
Reuters contributed to this article.