Friday, May 24, 2024

High-altitude object shot down over Alaska, U.S. says

(BBC News) U.S. President Joe Biden ordered a fighter jet to shoot down an unidentified “high-altitude object” off Alaska on Friday, the White House says.

Spokesman John Kirby said the unmanned object was “the size of a small car” and posed a “reasonable threat” to civilian aviation.

The object’s purpose and origin were unclear, Kirby said.

It comes a week after the American military destroyed a Chinese balloon over U.S. territorial waters.

Speaking at the White House on Friday, Kirby said the debris field of the object shot down on Friday was “much, much smaller” than the balloon shot down last Saturday off the coast of South Carolina.

He said that the object was flying at 40,000 feet (12,000 metres) over the northern coast of Alaska.

It had already flown across Alaska at a speed of 32-64 km/h and was over the sea travelling toward the North Pole, when it was shot down.

Commercial airlines can fly as high as 14,000 metres

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,” Kirby said.

The object was first spotted on Thursday night, though officials did not specify a 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 the decision.

Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder confirmed that an F-22 jet shot down the object with a sidewinder missile at 13:45 EST (18:45 GMT).

The warplane was scrambled from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.

Ryder said a significant amount of debris had been recovered so far. It was being loaded on to vessels and taken to “labs for subsequent analysis,” he added.

Officials said they had not yet determined whether the object was involved in surveillance, and Kirby corrected a reporter who referred to it as a balloon.

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-64605447

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