An unidentified object moving over Alaskan air space was shot down by the U.S. military Friday afternoon, though Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder noted little was known about the object, which officials did not indicate was connected to a suspected Chinese spy balloon shot down earlier this week.
The “high altitude airborne object”—described as “about the size of a small car”—was shot down at 1:45 p.m. Friday after it was first spotted traveling north east across Alaska on Thursday, Ryder said, adding it was “not similar in size or shape” to the Chinese balloon.
A senior U.S. official told Fox News the object entered U.S. airspace before it was detected by the military “over Alaska not far from the northern coast” on Thursday.
The object was flying around 40,000 feet in the air, according to National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, causing a “reasonable threat to the safety of civilian flight.”
The object did not appear to be “self-maneuvering” and was unmanned, Kirby said, noting the object was “at the mercy of prevailing winds.”
U.S. fighter aircraft completed its first fly-by of the object Thursday before a second pass Friday morning, Kirby said, though both brought back “limited” information about the object.
President Joe Biden gave the order to down the object Friday afternoon at the recommendation of Pentagon officials, adding “it was a success,” according to CNN.
A recovery operation to retrieve debris from the object—which was shot down over northeastern Alaska by the Canadian border—is underway, Ryder said, as the U.S. has “no further details” about the object’s capabilities, purpose or origin, though it did not appear to have any surveillance equipment.
The object was shot down by a F-22 fighter jet with an AIM-9X missile, both of which were used to shoot down the balloon, U.S. officials told CNN.
What We Don’t Know
Both Kirby and Ryder provided limited information about the object’s physical appearance, only noting it was not similar to the Chinese balloon. Its identification as an object is “because that’s the best description we have right now,” Kirby said. “We don’t know who owns it, whether it’s state-owned or corporate-owned or privately owned, we just don’t know.”
The U.S. Air Force shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina earlier this week, after it was seen hovering over the U.S. Ryder noted the effort to down the balloon was “a little bit of apples and oranges” when comparing an effort to down the object, noting the balloon was significantly larger and could carry a larger payload. Biden faced criticism for not shooting down the balloon when it was first detected over Alaska, contrasting the administration’s 24-hour surveillance of the object and subsequent shooting down.
U.S. Shoots Down Object Over Alaska That Posed ‘Threat,’ Pentagon Says (Forbes)
U.S. Shoots Down Suspected Chinese Spy Balloon Over Atlantic (Forbes)
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