Six days after the downing of a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon triggered a new diplomatic schism with Beijing, a US fighter jet shot down an unidentified item that was drifting high above Alaska on Friday, according to the White House.
John Kirby, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, said the new object’s origin or purpose were unknown, but that it was taken down because, floating above 40,000 feet, it posed a hazard to civil aviation.
“The president ordered the military to down the object,” Kirby said.
Questioned about the incident by reporters at the White House, Biden said the shoot-down “was a success.”
The object, according to Kirby, was far smaller than a sizable Chinese balloon that flew over the United States last week and was downed on Saturday off the coast of the Atlantic by a US fighter jet.
He described it as being “about the size of a small vehicle.”
“We do not know who owns it, whether state owned or corporate owned,” he said. “We don’t understand the full purpose.”
According to Brigadier General Pat Ryder, a spokesman for the Pentagon, an F-22 Raptor fired an AIM-9X missile at the target, the same weapon and aircraft that were used to shoot down the purported Chinese spy balloon.
The event occurred as concerns over China’s alleged ongoing plans to use surveillance balloons to gather intelligence throughout the world have increased.