The U.S. downed an object off the coast of Alaska on Friday, according to Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder and National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby.
Ryder said that at President Joe Biden's direction, "fighter aircraft ... successfully took down a high altitude airborne object off the northern coast of Alaska at 1:45 p.m. Eastern Standard Time today within U.S. sovereign airspace over U.S. territorial water."
He said that the object, which had been at 40,000 feet, "posed a reasonable threat to the safety of civilian flight" — he noted that the object's size was around that of a "small car."
Pentagon discusses object shot down over Alaska, recovered Chinese balloon debris, more | full videowww.youtube.com
Kirby indicated that the territorial waters are frozen where the object was taken down.
The news comes after the U.S. took down a Chinese surveillance balloon off the coast of South Carolina last week on Saturday — the craft was taken down after it had already traversed the skies over U.S. land.
"The balloon, which was being used by the PRC in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States, was brought down above U.S. territorial waters," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a Feb. 4 statement. "On Wednesday, President Biden gave his authorization to take down the surveillance balloon as soon as the mission could be accomplished without undue risk to American lives under the balloon's path. After careful analysis, U.S. military commanders had determined downing the balloon while over land posed an undue risk to people across a wide area due to the size and altitude of the balloon and its surveillance payload. In accordance with the President's direction, the Department of Defense developed options to take down the balloon safely over our territorial waters, while closely monitoring its path and intelligence collection activities."
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