First Flight of an F-22 Jet Over North Alaska on Saturday: A Possible Detection of a High-Altitude Object
The US military shot down a high- altitude object over Alaska on Friday after US officials determined that it was a threat to air traffic. The object was brought down by fighter aircraft assigned to US Northern Command, and Biden referred to the operation as a “success.” Recovery teams are now attempting to retrieve the debris that is sitting on top of ice in US territorial waters.
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.
A statement from Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said the object shot down on Saturday was first noticed over Alaska on Friday evening. The F-22 jets of the Alaska Air National Guard monitored the object and took time to take a closer look at it.
F-35 fighter jets were dispatched to look at the object further after it was spotted on Thursday. John Kirby, the National Security Council’s coordinators for strategic communications said on Friday that the object was a “reasonable threat” to the safety of civilian flight.
Kirby told reporters that the first fly-by of US fighter aircraft happened Thursday night, and the second happened Friday morning. Both came back with limited information about the object.
Kirby said that the fighters were able to get around it before the order was given to shoot it down.
At a Pentagon briefing later, spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the unknown object was shot down by a F-22 fighter jet at 1:45 pm ET over northeast Alaska. He didn’t want to “characterize” it yet, so he told reporters that the object was a balloon. He said “we don’t know origin of this object,” but that, based on a “reasonable threat to civilian air traffic,” the decision was taken to take it down.
The Alaska National Guard and units under US Northern Command, along with HC-130 Hercules, HH-60 Pave Hawk, and CH-47 Chinook are all participating in the effort to recover the object, Ryder said.
We have the best description for this object so we are calling it an object. We don’t know who owns it – whether it’s state-owned or corporate-owned or privately-owned, we just don’t know,” Kirby said.
The object first came to the attention of the US government “last evening.” Kirby said Biden was first briefed Thursday night by the Pentagon.
The shot down of an unidentified object by a large-scale espionage vessel in Deadhorse, Alaska
Kirby said that the object did not appear to be self-maneuvering and was at the mercy of prevailing winds.
As the military took action against an object, the Federal Aviation Administration became aware of the situation and imposed a temporary flight restriction around Deadhorse, Alaska.
The Biden administration has faced questions over its handling of a suspected Chinese spy balloon that floated across the nation last week before being shot down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the Carolinas on Saturday.
While the president has stood by how he and his administration handled that balloon, he has faced criticism from Republicans for allowing the suspected spy balloon to float over much of the country before shooting it down.
On Thursday officials revealed that they believe the spy balloons that the US has found are part of a fleet of large ships that are conducting global espionage. 40 countries across five continents were traced by the US.
It was very difficult for the pilots to get a lot of information because of its small size, the fact that it was flying so fast and its ability to pick up speed.
An unidentified object was shot down 10 miles off the frozen coast of Alaska on Friday afternoon, US officials announced, but details about the object are scarce.
It’s unclear what the object looks like, or where it came from. On Friday, Ryder said it was traveling north east across Alaska. He declined to provide a physical characterization, only saying that it was “about the size of a small car” and “not similar in size or shape” to the Chinese surveillance balloon that was downed off the coast of South Carolina on February 4.
The risk of the US being collected on was very low and the risk to the people and property on the ground was high if the balloon were to be shot down.
The officials haven’t given any clues about the object shot down over Alaska, other than to say it is related to the Chinese spy balloon.
What Learned About China’s Balloon Assisted Detection of the Alaskan Object Shot Down by the Air-Defident Identification Zone?
Recovery teams are in the process of finding 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.”
“As Canadian authorities conduct recovery operations to help our countries learn more about the object, the Federal Bureau of Investigation will be working closely with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police,” Ryder said in his Saturday statement.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin talked with the Canadian Defence Minister about the incident and reassured her that they would defend their sovereignty together.
The balloon was spotted after entering the US Air Defense Identification Zone over Alaska on January 28 before flying over Canada, a Department of Defense official told lawmakers last week. It then reentered continental US airspace three days later.
Recovery activities are on the sea ice. “We have no further details at this time about the object, including its capabilities, purpose, or origin.”