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Tipsheet

John Kirby Confirms the U.S. Took Down a ‘High Altitude’ Object Over Alaska

Screenshot via KSVI-TV

Speaking to reporters from the White House on Friday, National Security Council coordinator John Kirby said that the United States downed a “high altitude” flying object over Alaska within the last hour. This comes days after the U.S. shot down a high-altitude Chinese spy balloon discovered hovering over a military base in Montana.

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“Can you speak to rumors that there is another Chinese balloon over Alaska or any other parts of U.S. territory that the U.S. shot down?” a reporter asked Kirby.

“I can confirm that the Department of Defense was tracking a high-altitude object over Alaska airspace in the last 24 hours. The object was flying at an altitude of 40,000 feet and posed a reasonable threat to civilian flight safety. 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. Those waters right now are frozen. But inside territorial airspace and over territorial waters. Fighter aircraft assigned to U.S. Northern Command took down the object within the last hour.” 

When asked follow-up questions about the object, Kirby clarified that Biden ordered the object to be shot down at the recommendation of Pentagon leaders.

“He wanted it taken down. They did that. They did it using fighter aircraft assigned to U.S. Northern Command. The Pentagon will have more to say about the details of this later on…we’re calling this an object because that’s the best description we have right now. We do not know who owns it, whether it’s state owned or corporate owned or privately owned. We just don’t know. We don’t know,” Kirby said, adding “we don’t understand the full purpose.”

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“We don’t have any information that would confirm a stated purpose for this object. We do expect to be able to recover the debris since it fell not only within our territorial space but on what we believe is frozen water. The recovery effort will be made. We’re hopeful that it will be successful, and then we can learn a little bit more about it.” 

“Was the appearance like the Chinese aircraft?” a reporter replied. 

“No. It was much, much smaller than the spy balloon that we took down last Saturday. The way it was described to me was roughly the size of a small car as opposed to like a payload that was two or three buses,” Kirby answered.

As Leah covered, President Biden previously downplayed the threat posed by the Chinese spy balloon that floated across the U.S. before it was shot down over the Atlantic. 

"Look, the total amount of intelligence gathering that’s going on by every country around the world is overwhelming,"  Biden told Noticias Telemuno in an interview that ran Thursday. “It’s not a major breach."

“It's a violation of international law,” he added. “It's our airspace. And once it comes into our space, we can do what we want with it.”

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