According to U.S. officials, President Joe Biden directed the U.S. military on Friday afternoon to bring down an aircraft carrier over Alaska’s coast.
The National Security Council, Pentagon, and other officials declined to comment on the object’s nature. However, they said that the object was travelling at an altitude above 40,000 feet and could pose a threat for commercial air traffic. This justified a military response. The object was smaller than the Chinese spy ball that entered U.S. territory via Alaska. It penetrated Alaskan airspace, and was later shot down by an official, The New York Times reported.
Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said Friday.
Ryder said that the object was first seen on February 9, and tracked its path as it entered U.S. Airspace. Ryder also stated that it traveled in a northeasterly orientation.
U.S. Northern Command, (NORTHCOM), sent a sortie fighter jets to inspect the object twice Thursday night and Friday morning. The object was not manned, John Kirby, spokesperson for the National Security Council, said.
Ryder confirmed that two F-22 aircraft flying from Joint Base Elmendorf destroyed the object using a single AIM9X missile.
Ryder stated that they are still assessing the object’s identity. “We’re going to recover as much as we can from this.”
Kirby stated that it was smaller than the spy ballone… about the size of an average car.
Biden ordered that the object be taken down “out of an excess of caution,” a NYT official said. A second official earlier Friday described the situation to be “fast moving”.
Officials were unable to confirm whether the object had been deployed by an enemy or suggest military, research, or commercial use.
Kirby stated that the military shot the object down in an area near sparsely populated areas, and into the waters off Alaska’s coast.
When asked about the owner of the object, he replied “I don’t know”.
Kirby stated, “We haven’t ruled any thing in or out. That’s why we’re calling this an object.”
The Pentagon stressed that this scenario was not similar to the one of the Chinese surveillance balloons that invaded U.S. territory on Jan. 28, and crossed Canada before being shot down on February 4. Ryder stated that while the balloon was maneuverable and consistent with emerging intelligence about China’s global surveillance program it did not appear to have the capability to maneuver.
The Chinese spy balloon flew over sensitive U.S. locations and changed direction in Utah. This caused the Pentagon to change its assessment of the threat.
Inclement weather has impeded recovery operations in waters off South Carolina. Ryder however stated that the U.S. has “located substantial amounts of debris.”