Military drops ‘High Altitude Object’ in Alaska

The US Northern Command brought down the object using fighter jets in the northeastern part of Alaska near Canada, Kirby said. The Pentagon does not know who owns the plane or whether it is state-owned or privately owned.

“We have no data that would confirm a specific purpose for this object,” Kirby said.

The object fell into US territorial space, in water that is currently frozen. Kirby said of where the object fell, “a recovery effort will be made, and we are hopeful that it will be successful.”

Kirby also confirmed that a military pilot had not manned the object and there was no indication of the object’s ability to observe. He said Biden’s primary reason for ordering the military to shoot down the object was “safety of flight issues.”

Kirby emphasized the differences between the object and the Chinese balloon that hit US skies last week, repeatedly noting the new object’s small size and the fact that it was above water when Biden ordered it to be shot down. The president faced criticism from both Republicans and Democrats for the delay in bringing down the Chinese balloon, waiting for it to float across the country from Alaskan airspace to the coast of South Carolina before a fighter jet dropped it.

Kirby defended that decision on Friday, saying the Pentagon knew the balloon’s original flight path and “was able to significantly reduce any intelligence capabilities the Chinese could get from the balloon.” But he said data from the balloon’s observations did not provide insight into the detection and tracking of these new objects.

“At this point, all I can tell you is that it doesn’t appear to have had the ability to maneuver independently,” Kirby said. “We’ll try to recover and see what else we can learn.”