What we know about the object that was shot down
Why the Obama Administration didn’t Shoot Down the China Spy Balloon Before It Crossed Over Alaska, nor Did He Observe It
The Chinese military spy balloon entered the airspace over the continental U.S. at least two days before it did, yet they failed to act to stop it. “Biden must disclose to Americans when they knew the spay [sic] balloon was headed towards the U.S. & explain why they didn’t stop it.”
The report – also known as a “tipper” – was disseminated through classified channels accessible across the US government. According to sources, top defense and intelligence officials weren’t immediately alarmed by it, because it wasn’t flagged as an urgent warning. The White House was not made aware of the report, and President Joe Biden wasn’t briefed on it, according to sources.
The US moved to investigate the object, seeing it as a chance to observe and collect intel.
Some Republicans are wondering why the Biden administration did not shoot down the balloon before it crossed into the continental US, either while it was over Alaska or sooner.
The NORAD fighter jets were sent up to identify the balloon on January 28, after it entered US airspace near Alaska, according to defense officials.
Still, officials tracking the balloon saw little reason to be alarmed. US intelligence and military officials were able to observe this balloon when it was expected to sail over Alaska and continue on a northern trajectory.
Military officials said it was not surprising that the president was not briefed until January 31, given the expectations for the balloon.
As more information about the administration’s decision-making process on the balloon has continued to trickle out, Congress has taken a keen interest.
The U.S. military shot down a “high-altitude object” on Alaska in the last hour after a suspected Chinese spy balloon
A Senate Republican aide told CNN that there were still questions to be asked about Alaska. “Alaska is still part of the United States – why is that okay to transit Alaska without telling anyone, but [the continental US] is different?”
An image that has gained legendary status in both NORAD and the Pentagon is a pilot taking a photo of himself and the balloon in the cockpit.
The U.S. military shot down a “high-altitude object” over Alaska within the last hour, said John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council.
The incident marked the second time American fighter jets have taken down an object flying over US airspace in a little less than a week after a suspected Chinese spy balloon was shot down off the coast of South Carolina last Saturday.
The high-altitude object, Kirby said during a White House press briefing, was flying at an altitude of 40,000 feet and “posed a reasonable threat to the safety of civilian flight.”
Kirby told reporters that two US fighter aircraft flew by him in the space of a few hours. Both brought back “limited” information about the object.
The order to shoot it down was given before some fighter aircrafts were able to get to it, according to Kirby.
Biden ordered the military to down the object, which was the recommendation of the Pentagon. The object came inside territorial airspace and was brought down by fighter aircraft assigned to US Northern Command. It went down near the Canadian border and in the northern edge of Alaska. The US believes it can recover the debris.
The operation was coordinated by the US Northern Command’s Alaska Command, which received assistance from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Alaska Air National Guard.
The Deadhorse Object: An Object Searched by the U.S. Government and a Possible Chinese Spy Balloon Fleet
“We’re calling this an object because that’s the best description we have right now. Kirby said we don’t know who the owner is, whether it’s state-owned or corporate-owned.
The object first came to the attention of the US government “last evening.” Biden was first briefed Thursday night “as soon as the Pentagon had enough information,” Kirby said.
“This thing did not appear to be self-maneuvering so therefore at the mercy of prevailing winds, it was much less predictable. The president just wasn’t willing to take that risk,” he said.
The FAA restricted flights in the area around Deadhorse as the military took action against the object.
After a suspected Chinese spy balloon floated across the US before being shot down off the coast of the Carolinas, the Biden administration has faced questions over its handling.
According to officials, they think the spy balloons that the US has found are part of a large fleet that is conducting global espionage operations. The US tracked the balloons to 40 countries.
“Given its size, which was much smaller, and the capabilities on the fighter aircraft themselves, the speed at which they were flying, it was difficult for the pilots to glean a whole lot of information,” he said.
The Shot Down of an Alaskan Object by a High-Energy Balloon and Its Recovery on the Ocean Floor
US officials said that an object was shot down off the coast of Alaska but details about the object are scarce.
“While I won’t go into specifics due to classification reasons,” Ryder said, “I can say that we have located a significant amount of debris so far that will prove helpful to our further understanding of this balloon and its surveillance capabilities.”
There was not a significant concern about damage to people or property if the object was shot down, which was the primary reason the Chinese surveillance balloon was allowed to traverse the continental US last week.
Officials have given no indication so far that the object is at all related to the Chinese surveillance balloon downed last weekend, debris of which is still being recovered on the Atlantic Ocean floor.
Ryder said on Friday that recovery teams have “mapped the debris field” and are “in the process of searching for and identifying debris on the ocean floor.”
When asked Friday if lessons learned about China’s balloon assisted in detecting the object shot down over Alaska, Ryder said it was “a little bit of apples and oranges.”