The US President Joe Biden ordered a fighter jet to shoot down an unidentified high-altitude object off Alaska on Friday, February 10, the White House says.
As BBC and News Agencies reports, the US Spokesman John Kirby said the unmanned object was “the size of a small car” and posed a “reasonable threat” to civilian aviation.
Speaking at the White House on Friday, Kirby stated that the debris field of the object shot down was “much smaller” than the balloon shot down last Saturday off the coast of South Carolina.
He said that the object was flying at 40,000ft (12,000m) over the northern coast of Alaska.
It had already flown across Alaska at a speed of 20 to 40mph (64km/h) and was out over the Sea traveling towards the North Pole when it was shot down.
The Helicopters and transport Aircraft have been deployed to collect debris from the frozen waters of the Beaufort Sea.
“We do not know who owns it, whether it’s state-owned or corporate-owned or privately owned,” the US spokesperson said.
The unnamed object was first spotted on Thursday night, though the officials did not specify the time.
He said two fighter jets had approached the object and assessed there was nobody on board, and this information was available to Biden when he made his decision.
“We are going to remain vigilant about our Airspace,” Kirby asserted. “The president takes his obligations to protect our National Security interests as paramount.”
According to ABC News, the object seemed to have no propulsion. It seemed to be floating, “cylindrical and silver-ish grey”, reports the Network’s Chief Global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz, citing an unnamed US official.
Pentagon Press Secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder said the object was “not similar in size or shape” to last week’s Chinese balloon.
He confirmed that an F-22 jet had shot down the object with a sidewinder missile at 13:45 EST (18:45 GMT) on Friday.
The warplane was scrambled from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.
Gen Ryder said a significant amount of debris had been recovered so far. It was being loaded onto vessels and taken to “labs for subsequent analysis”, he added.
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Officials further said that they had not yet determined whether the object was involved in surveillance, and Kirby corrected a reporter who referred to it as a balloon.
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He did not specify where exactly the object was shot down, but the Federal Aviation Administration said it had closed about 10 square miles of US airspace above Dead-horse, northern Alaska before the F-22 fired.
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The site is about 130 miles from the border of Canada, whose Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter he had been briefed on the “object that violated American airspace” and “supported the decision to take action”.
In an interview on Thursday, President Biden defended his handling of the Chinese balloon, maintaining that it was not “a major breach”.
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