After China balloon scare, Air Force shoots down object flying above Alaska’s North Slope
An aerial view of the Pentagon. (file)
The U.S. Air Force shot down an unidentified object flying above Alaska’s North Slope on Friday, officials at the White House said.
The shootdown took place less than a week after an Air Force fighter jet shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon off the coast of South Carolina.
National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the White House John Kirby said in a news conference that the object on Friday was “much, much smaller” than the Chinese surveillance balloon and was “about the size of a small car.”
Kirby said it wasn’t immediately clear whether the object was from China.
President Joe Biden ordered the object be shot down, Kirby said. It was traveling at an elevation of about 40,000 feet and could have posed a threat to commercial aviation, he said.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a temporary flight restriction over Prudhoe Bay, portions of the North Slope and the Arctic Ocean on Friday morning. At least one flight carrying oilfield workers was delayed, according to a message given to the Alaska Beacon by a worker.
After the shootdown, the object fell onto sea ice offshore, and federal officials will attempt to recover it.
Online flight tracking services showed a C-130 from Elmendorf Air Force Base circling south of Prudhoe Bay for much of the morning before flying offshore and circling above a spot northeast of Prudhoe Bay.
Ashley Murray contributed to this report. This article is developing and will be updated. Check back for more.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.