Saturday, May 25, 2024

US Jets Shot Down Another ‘Unkown’ Floating Object

'The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a statement saying it was “not a National Weather Service balloon...'

(Headline USAA U.S. military fighter jet shot down an unknown object flying off the remote northern coast of Alaska on Friday on order from Joe Biden, White House officials said.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the object was downed because it was flying at about 40,000 feet (13,000 meters) and posed a “reasonable threat” to the safety of civilian flights.

Asked about the object’s downing, Biden on Friday said only that “It was a success.”

Kirby described the object as smaller than the other Chinese balloon downed by Air Force fighter jets Saturday off the coast of South Carolina.

The twin downings in such close succession are extraordinary, and reflect heightened concerns over China’s surveillance program and public pressure on Biden to take a tough stand against it.

The Pentagon on Friday declined to provide a more precise description of the object, only saying that U.S. pilots who flew up to observe it determined it didn’t appear to be manned.

Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, Pentagon press secretary, told reporters Friday that an F-22 fighter aircraft based at Alaska’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson shot down the object using an AIM-9X short-range air-to-air missile, the same type used to take down the balloon nearly a week ago.

After the object was detected Thursday, NORAD — North American Aerospace Defense Command —sent F-35s to observe it, a U.S. official said, adding that the military queried U.S. government agencies to make sure it did not belong to any of them, and had confidence it was not a U.S. government or military asset. The official was not authorized to speak publicly about sensitive national security matters and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The mystery around what exactly the flying object was lingered late into Friday night. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a statement saying it was “not a National Weather Service balloon.”

“They do not hover,” said NOAA spokesperson Scott Smullen.

The development came almost a week after the U.S. shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast after letting it traverse sensitive military sites across North America.

The balloon was part of a large surveillance program that China has been conducting for “several years,” the Pentagon has said.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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