US jet shoots down unknown object flying off Alaska coast

U.S. Navy sailors recover debris from the high-altitude surveillance balloon that was shot down last week off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Tyler Thompson/U.S. Navy

A U.S. military fighter jet shot down an unknown object flying off the remote northern coast of Alaska on Friday on orders from President Joe Biden, White House officials said.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the object was downed because it was flying at about 40,000 feet (13,000 meters) and posed a “reasonable threat” to the safety of civilian flights, not because of any knowledge that it was engaged in surveillance. Asked about the object’s downing, Biden on Friday said only that “It was a success.”

Kirby described the object as roughly the size of a small car, much smaller than the massive suspected Chinese spy balloon downed by Air Force fighter jets Saturday off the coast of South Carolina after it transited over sensitive military sites across the continental U.S.

Republican Governor of Alaska Mike Dunleavy issued a statement echoing the Republican talking points,

Governor Dunleavy Issues Statement on Unidentified Object Shot Down Over Alaska

Feb 10, 2023: Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy issued the following statement today regarding the unidentified object shot down this morning over Alaskan waters.“Today’s announcement by the Pentagon that an unidentified object was shot down by an F-22 from Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson over Alaska’s coastline raises serious national security concerns that should concern every American.

I want to thank our Alaska-based military for eliminating the potential threat before it was flying over our land.This latest intrusion into our airspace raises serious questions about the White House’s decision to not shoot down a Chinese spy balloon last week when it was above the Aleutian Chain and prevent it from flying over important military sites in the Lower-48.Unlike other states, Alaska is truly on the front lines.

Because of our close proximity to our neighbors there is very little margin for error. Russian territory is only a few miles away. We are the one state closest to the Korean Peninsula and China. Alaska is truly on the front lines.As such, decisions need to be made quickly to preserve the territorial integrity of Alaska and the United States. This incident is further evidence that the military capability of Alaska is robust.

An important discussion should ensue about improving those capabilities, including icebreakers, Army, Air Force and Navy capabilities. If the last few days are any indication, this may be the new norm and we must be prepared. The Alaska National Guard is working closely with USNORTHCOM and other agencies to provide any support as requested.This latest incident demonstrates that Alaska remains the most strategic place on earth for both geopolitics and national defense.”

Office of Governor Dunleavy

AP news