U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday ordered fighter jets to shoot down an unidentified “high object” off the coast of Alaska, according to the White House. Spokesman John Kirby said,” the unmanned object would be about the size of a small car and pose a substantial threat to civil aviation. The object’s purpose and origin are unknown.” He comes a week after the US military destroyed a Chinese balloon in US sovereign waters. Kirby said Friday at the White House that the debris field from the object that fell on Friday was “much smaller” than the balloon that fell off the coast of South Carolina last Saturday. The thing was flying 40,000 feet (12,000 m) above the north coast of Alaska.
He said two fighter jets had approached the object and assessed there was nobody on board, and this information was available to Mr. Biden when he made his decision. “We’re going to remain vigilant about our airspace,” Mr. Kirby asserted. “The president considers his obligation to protect our national security interests paramount.” According to the News portal, the object seemed to have no propulsion. It seemed to be floating, “cylindrical and silver-ish grey”, reports the network’s chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz, citing an unnamed US official. Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder said the object was “not similar in size or shape” to last week’s Chinese balloon.
Hours after the US shot down the balloon last Saturday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin called China’s Defense Secretary via a dedicated crisis hotline. Chinese officials on Friday accused the US of “political manipulation and hype.” In an interview Thursday, President Biden defended China’s handling of balloons, claiming it was not a “serious violation.” Five Chinese companies and one research institute were blacklisted by the US government late Friday. The US Department of Commerce said it added to the list of entities that are said to support China’s military aerospace programs including airships and balloons.