Fighter jets were scrambled Saturday to investigate a radar anomaly over northern Montana, federal and military officials say, but nothing was immediately found. It came just hours after an unidentified flying object was shot down over northern Canada.
The incident began around 3:45 p.m. MT when two F-15 fighter jets were scrambled out of Portland to investigate what initially appeared to be unidentified object. The airspace around Havre, Montana – near the Canadian border – was briefly shut down.
“Airspace is closed due to an object that could interfere with commercial air traffic,” U.S. Representative Matt Rosendale said. Governor Greg Gianforte and U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines also confirmed that an object was being monitored.
The airspace reopened around 6:30 p.m.
“NORAD detected a radar anomaly and sent fighter aircraft to investigate,” the agency, which is tasked with protecting the skies over North America, said in an update. “Those aircraft did not identify any object to correlate to the radar hits.”
NORAD will continue to monitor the situation, the statement said. It was not immediately clear whether the statement meant that the incident was believed to be a false alarm or that the military would have to wait until sunrise.
“[The Department of Defense] told me that they’re going to be tracking the object – they can’t even say exactly what it is – until it gets light again,” Rosendale said. “They don’t have the ability to put any more eyes on it with aircraft until it’s light again.”
The radar anomaly came just hours after an unidentified object was shot down over northern Canada. This, in turn, came just a day after another object was shot down off the coast of northern Alaska. Both remain unidentified.
Earlier this month, a Chinese spy balloon entered U.S. airspace and flew over multiple states before it was shot down off the coast of South Carolina. A second balloon flew over Latin America. China denied using them for surveillance.