White House Following the downing of a Chinese surveillance balloon off the East Coast less than a week ago, the United States shot down an unidentified object over frigid waters near Alaska on Friday at President Joe Biden’s request.
A “high altitude object” around the size of a small car was reportedly flying above Alaska, according to White House spokesperson John Kirby. He claimed that the Pentagon was not yet prepared to assess if the object was a balloon, from where it came, or whether it was carrying out surveillance.
About the military effort to bring the object down, Biden told reporters, “It was a success.”
The device, which was flying at a height of 40,000 feet rather than the 65,000 feet of last week’s Chinese surveillance balloon, “presented a reasonable hazard to the safety of civilian aircraft,” according to Kirby. The Pentagon originally discovered the item Thursday night via ground radar and, “out of an abundance of caution,” shot it down at 1:45 pm ET on Friday over the frigid Arctic Ocean waters close to Alaska’s northeastern border with Canada.
In regards to the skies over the United States, Kirby declared, “We’re going to maintain vigilance.”
Before bringing the object to a stop, Kirby claimed that the pilots tracking it verified that it was unmanned. Before it was shot down, he claimed the UFO had crossed land in Alaska.
If it turns out to be another Chinese spy ship, that information may sour already tense relations with America’s main foe. A surveillance vessel might spy on many sensitive military locations in Alaska, including sophisticated radar systems and missiles designed to detect and intercept ballistic missiles heading toward the United States, in addition to the threat to civilian airliners.
The wreckage was recovered at the scene late Friday, according to Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary. Recovery crews on C-130, Black Hawk, and Chinook helicopters were en route to the scene.
The weapon used to bring down the object was a sidewinder missile fired from an F-22 fighter jet, the same aircraft, and weapons that were used on Saturday to bring down the Chinese spy balloon in the Atlantic Ocean.
The debris, according to Kirby, was dispersed across a smaller region than the spy balloon, and the U.S. would attempt to glean more information about the device from it.
According to Kirby, the Chinese spy balloon that has kept the United States spellbound for the past week had a flight route that passed over critical military installations and “had propulsion and steerage capability and could slow down or speed up.” He noted that the Friday target “did not appear to have the ability to independently maneuver” in comparison.
“We don’t know what entity owns this object; I want to emphasize that again,” Kirby added. “There is no clue as to whether it originates from a country, an organization, or a person. We simply aren’t sure. “Who owns this item is unknown to us.”
The spy balloon last week traveled over much of the continental United States as well as some of the most secretive military installations, such as nuclear missile silos. A trip to Beijing that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had intended to take as a result of China’s violation of American airspace was postponed.
Republicans who claim that the White House should have ordered it to be quickly shot down have criticized Biden. The president claimed that to prevent harm to residents from falling debris, he was waiting for the balloon to reach the ocean.
If China will be contacted by the Biden administration about the origins of the object shot over Alaska, Kirby did not comment.
Anita Anand, the Canadian Minister of Defense, and Lloyd Austin, the Secretary of Defense, met on Friday at the Pentagon to talk about military collaboration between the two nations, as well as the Chinese spy balloon that flew over both nations.
Anand expressed his gratitude to Austin for “the United States’ strong engagement during the response to China’s high-altitude surveillance balloon,” according to a readout of the discussion given to the related channel by the Canadian embassy in Washington.
“Agreed that continuing cooperation between Canada and the United States, including through NORAD, assures the security and defense of North America, and that NORAD modernization is a vital mutual priority,” reads a statement from Anand and Austin.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD, is a military command that operates on a bi-national basis between the United States and Canada. Its mission is to provide continuous real-time worldwide detection, validation, and warning of incoming ballistic missiles and other potential airborne threats, such as balloons.
According to the Pentagon, the Chinese spy balloon that crossed the United States before being shot down off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday was part of a “larger Chinese surveillance balloon program” that has been in operation for several years and spans multiple continents.
The Biden administration has come under fire for allowing the Chinese surveillance balloon to fly over the United States for over a week before it was shot down over the Atlantic Ocean. Officials from the administration claimed the choice was made as a result of the danger to local citizens. However, several Republican politicians demanded that it be pulled down when it was over water around Alaska’s shore, much like this smaller object was. The big surveillance balloon that was shot down has been described to lawmakers.
Three balloons during the Trump administration and one at the start of the Biden administration had previously flown over sections of Hawaii, Texas, and Florida that the United States was aware of.
(After the surveillance balloon had flown across the nation for many days, the U.S. military brought it down on February 4. The event increased friction between the United States and China, prompting Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone a trip to Beijing)