U.S. Military Shoots Down Another High-Altitude Aircraft Near Alaska

The U.S. military shot down another high-altitude aircraft in U.S. territorial waters near northeastern Alaska, according National Security Council spokesman John Kirby in a press conference that was aired live. President Joe Biden reportedly ordered the shoot down.

It’s not immediately clear if the object shot down was a balloon, according to the New York Times, and the breach of U.S. airspace was described as “relatively short.” The White House isn’t even saying whether the aircraft was controlled by another country or was privately owned, according to CBS News reporter Margaret Brennan in a tweet Friday afternoon.

The unknown aircraft was reportedly flying at about 40,000 feet, making it a potential threat to being close to civilian aircraft, though it had “no affirmative indications of military threat,” according to John Kirby, a National Security Council spokesman who gave a news conference on Friday about the incident.

The aircraft that was shot down didn’t appear to have the ability to be steered in any significant way, according to the Washington Post. The aircraft was reportedly near the Alaskan border with Canada and was shot down over frozen waters, according to the Post.

The news of the latest shoot down comes after another aircraft the Pentagon identified as a Chinese spy balloon was shot down over the Atlantic Ocean a week ago, but only after it had traversed much of the continental United States. The balloon was first spotted near Alaska, then traveled across Canada and down into Montana before flying all the way to South Carolina.

The incident caused an uproar about what should be done, with many people wondering why the U.S. military didn’t just shoot it down when it was over U.S. airspace. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski was particularly upset that something wasn’t done sooner, making a forceful statement during a Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Oversight Hearing this week, describing her state as “the first line of defense for America.”

“Why was the state that is the first line of defense not able to keep the rest of the country from being more vulnerable when it came to collection of intelligence as [the Chinese spy balloon] flew over important installations?” Murkowski said during an opening statement on Thursday.

Supporters of former President Donald Trump used the spy balloon incident to argue that President Biden is weak when it comes to China. But as we’ve since learned, several surveillance balloons were spotted during his presidency, including near Texas, Florida, Hawaii and the territory of Guam. Balloons also flew near Norfolk, Virginia as well as Coronado, California, which are two areas with highly sensitive military installations.

This story is developing and will be updated as new information becomes available.

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