A U.S. fighter jet shot down an unidentified object flying off the Alaskan coast Friday on the order of President Joe Biden.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the aircraft was brought down at 1:45 p.m. Eastern Time “out of an abundance of caution,” because it was flying at an altitude of 40,000 ft. and “posed a reasonable threat to the safety of civilian flight.”
“President Biden ordered the military to down the object and they did,” Kirby told reporters at the White House briefing. “It came inside our territorial waters and those waters right now are frozen.” The military is currently in the midst of a recovery operation to analyze the object.
The incident comes less than a week after a F-22 stealth fighter brought down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast. The discovery of the aircraft and subsequent shoot-down sparked a diplomatic standoff between Washington and Beijing.
Read More: A Chinese Balloon Was Shot Down By the U.S. Military. Here’s How It Went Down.
It’s not yet clear whether the aircraft that was shot down near Alaska belonged to China or some other nation, Kirby said. But he noted it was much smaller than the 200 ft. balloon that the U.S. took out last week. The new object was “roughly the size of a small car,” Kirby said.
Read More: How an Alleged Spy Balloon Derailed an Important U.S.-China Meeting.
“We’re calling this an ‘object’ because that’s the best description we have right now,” Kirby said. “We do not know who owns it, whether it’s state-owned or corporate-owned or privately-owned. We just don’t know.”
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