Pentagon Shoots Down An ‘Object’ Flying off Alaska

A flying object, described vaguely by White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby as an “object as roughly the size of a small car” was shot down as it was flying off the northern coast of Alaska on Friday by a U.S. military fighter jet. Kirby added that the unknown object was “ much smaller than the massive suspected Chinese spy balloon downed by Air Force fight jets Saturday off the coast of South Carolina after it transited over sensitive military sites across the continental U.S.”

Kirby elaborated, adding that “the object was downed because it was flying at about 40,000 feet (13,00d0 meters) and posed a “reasonable threat” to the safety of civilian flights. Kirby embellished his comment, clarifying that the object was not shot down “because of any knowledge hat it was engaged in surveillance.” On Friday, President Biden referred to the downing of te object by saying: “It was a success.”

The Fox 5 Atlanta report added that the “twin downings in such close succession are extraordinary.” The military actions “reflect heightened concerns over China’s surveillance program and public pressure on Biden to take a tough stand against it.” Few answers were provided by the White House or the military about the “unknown object” downed Friday. The White House emphasized the alleged distinctions between the two episodes. Officials couldn’t say if the latest object contained any surveillance equipment, where it came from or what purpose it had.

As reported, the Pentagon on Friday declined to provide a more precise description of the object, only saying that “U.S. pilots who flew up to observe it determined it didn’t appear to be manned.” Officials said “the object was far smaller than the previous balloon, did not appear to be maneuverable and was traveling at a much lower altitude.”

Kirby maintained that Biden, based on the advice of the Pentagon, believed it posed enough of a concern to shoot it out of the sky — primarily because of the potential risk to civilian aircraft. Kirby emphasized: “We’re going to remain vigilant about our airspace. The president takes his obligations to protect our national security interests as paramount.”

As seen in the video of the press briefing embedded in the Fox 5 Atlanta report, “Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, Pentagon press secretary, told reporters Friday that an F-22 fighter aircraft based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson shot down the object using an AIM-9X short-range air-to-air missile, the same type used to take down the balloon nearly a week ago.”

As reported, “Ahead of the shoot-down, the Federal Aviation Administration restricted flights over a roughly 10-square mile area within U.S. airspace off Alaska’s Bullen Point”  It is alleged that the object fell onto frozen waters and officials expected they could recover debris faster than from last week’s massive balloon. Ruder added that several U.S. military helicopters have gone out to begin the recovery effort.”

In summarizing, the Fox 5 report references a Pentagon statement claiming the balloon previously shot down “was part of a large surveillance program that China has been conducting for several years.” The Fox report elaborates on this point: “The U.S. has said Chinese balloons have flown over dozens of countries across five continents in recent years, and it learned more about the balloon program after closely monitoring the one shot down near South Carolina.”

D & B Staff

Further reading