The United States military reportedly shot down an unidentified flying object off the coast of Alaska on Friday, as ordered by President Joe Biden. According to the White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, the object was targeted due to its altitude of 40,000 feet, which posed a potential risk to the safety of civilian flights. The object was not known to be engaged in surveillance activities at the time of its downing. Biden has commented on the event, stating that “It was a success.” Kirby stated that the object was roughly the size of a small car, much smaller than another suspected spy balloon shot down by the Air Force off the coast of South Carolina in the past.
The recent downing of two objects in close succession has sparked concerns about China’s surveillance activities and the pressure on President Biden to take a strong stance against it. Despite the unusual events, there is limited information available about the object shot down on Friday, and the White House has differentiated the two incidents. The Pentagon has not provided a detailed description of the object and has only stated that U.S. pilots who observed it believed it to be unmanned.
The object was far smaller in size and at a much lower altitude than the balloon shot down last week. However, based on the advice from the Pentagon, President Biden deemed it necessary to take action and ordered the military to shoot it down due to the potential threat it posed to civilian aircraft. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby emphasized that the President takes his obligations to protect the country’s national security interests seriously. Biden was briefed on the object’s presence on Thursday evening, and the object was shot down using an AIM-9X short-range air-to-air missile by an F-22 fighter aircraft based in Alaska.
An unidentified object was brought down in a region with unfavourable weather conditions, with only about six and a half hours of daylight at the time. The temperatures on Friday during the day were around minus 17°F (27°C).
NORAD – North American Aerospace Defence Command – dispatched F-35s to monitor the object after it was detected on Thursday, according to a U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of national security matters. The military confirmed that the object did not belong to any U.S. government or military agencies before the decision was made to shoot it down, which took place over water.
Senator Dan Sullivan expressed his view that Alaska needs to “re-establish deterrence” towards foreign aircraft in an interview on Friday. He was informed about the military tracking the latest unidentified object entering Alaska airspace, near Nome. Sullivan spoke with senior military officials and encouraged them to shoot the object down. There is no indication yet if the object has Chinese origin, but the military is coordinating with NOAA and NASA and doesn’t believe it is a friendly object from a friendly country or federal agency.