White House confirms ‘object’ shot down over Alaska

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News

U.S. officials said Friday that military jets had downed an as-yet-unidentified object that was flying at a low altitude in American airspace. 

National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said it was unclear what the object was or, more critically, who owned it and what purpose it served, but that it was viewed as a hazard to air travel and was shot down. 

“I can confirm that the Department of Defense was tracking a high-altitude object over Alaska airspace in the last 24 hours,” Kirby said during a briefing. “The object was flying at an altitude of 40,000 feet and posed a reasonable threat to the safety of civilian flight. Out of an abundance of caution and at the recommendation of the Pentagon, President Biden ordered the military to down the object. And they did, and it came inside our territorial waters.”

In a Twitter thread, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) described a briefing he received from senior Defense Department personnel, a meeting that resulted in Sullivan referring to Alaska as “the frontline of defense for our nation.” 

While he did not directly state that the latest object was the property of China, Sullivan treated its presence as indicative of a growing issue over the sovereignty of American airspace. 

“As I reiterated with senior Defense Department officials yesterday, we need to reestablish deterrence with regard to [Chinese President] Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party which believes they can willfully infiltrate American airspace whenever they want,” Sullivan tweeted. “That has to stop.

“The best way to do this is through the type of actions that we’ve taken today in Alaska and to publicly reiterate that we will be shooting down any and all unknown aircraft that violate our air space.”

Kirby faced an immediate barrage of questions regarding why President Joe Biden elected to act so swiftly in this instance and so slowly last week when the now-infamous Chinese spy balloon traveled coast-to-coast over the United States. 

The difference, Kirby said, was in the size of the object – which was about the size of a car as compared to the spy balloon, which was the size of three buses – and the fact that the object’s purpose was not known. 

“[The] debris field for this we expect to be much, much smaller than would have been for the other one.  That’s difference one,” Kirby said. “Difference two: We knew for a fact that the PRC balloon that we shot down last week was, in fact, a surveillance asset and capable of surveillance over sensitive military sites and that it had self-propulsion and maneuver capabilities.  There’s no indication that this one did.”

Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, like Kirby, stressed the size difference. 

“We have no further details about the object at this time, including any description of its capabilities, purpose, or origin,” Ryder said in a separate briefing. “The object was about the size of a small car, so not similar in size or shape to the high altitude surveillance balloon that was taken down off the coast of South Carolina on February 4.”

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), however, argues the real difference was the amount of heat the American people put on Biden for allowing the Chinese balloon to fly as long as it did. 

“Biden’s response to foreign instruments flying over our airspace vastly changed in a matter of days due to the American people,” Biggs tweeted. “Your pressure convinced him to no longer allow these devices to fly freely across our great country. Thank you.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) was less kind in her appraisal, tweeting “Thank you for defending our country, but this proves all of their excuses about last week’s Chinese Spy Balloon was BS.”

Kirby, no doubt appreciating that a rise in conservative criticism was forthcoming, said that Biden “doesn’t regret the way that we handled the first balloon.”

U.S. Northern Command fighter jets were responsible for the object’s downing, and Kirby said he believed the object fell on frozen water, which will make debris recovery possible.