United States fighter jets on Saturday shot down an unidentified, unmanned high-altitude airborne object over northern Canada that had entered its airspace from Alaska.

In a statement, the White House said that the decision was taken following a phone call between US President Joe Biden said Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The action came on the heels of the US military shooting down a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon off the coast of South Carolinas on February 4, adding to already strained relations between Washington and Beijing.

A spy balloon, which was used extensively during the cold war, has sophisticated cameras and imaging technology to collect information. It operates quite high in the sky, more or less where commercial aeroplanes are flown.

On Friday, the US had shot down another object flying at the height of about 40,000 feet off the northern coast of Alaska on orders of Biden, reported PTI.

According to Pentagon Press Secretary Brig Gen Pat Ryder, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, a defence force, detected the object over Alaska late Friday evening.

The White House said the object was tracked and monitored by the defence force over the last 24 hours.

“Out of an abundance of caution and at the recommendation of their militaries, President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau authorised it to be taken down,” the White House said.

It added: “The leaders discussed the importance of recovering the object in order to determine more details on its purpose or origin. President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau commended NORAD’s and US Northern Command’s strong and effective partnership and agreed to continue their close coordination to detect, track, and defend our airspace.”

Meanwhile, Trudeau said that Canadian forces will now recover and analyse the wreckage of the object.

The suspected Chinese spy balloon that was shot down on February 4 had first entered US airspace in Alaska on January 28 before moving into Canadian airspace three days later. It had then re-entered American airspace on January 31 and was seen in the state of Montana, where a number of sensitive nuclear missile sites are located.

Beijing, which has insisted that the balloon was merely a weather research “airship” that had been blown off course, had accused the US of “clearly overreacting and seriously violating international practice”.