US President Joe Biden orders fighter jets to shoot down another “height object” in US airspace

The White House announced Friday that President Joe Biden had ordered the military to shoot down what he described as a “high-altitude object” that was hovering over Alaska earlier in the day.

“The Department of Defense has been tracking a high altitude object over Alaskan airspace for the past 24 hours,” John Kirby, the National Security Council’s strategic communications coordinator, told reporters when asked about rumors of another suspected Chinese surveillance balloon.

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The high-altitude object, Kirby said, was flying at an altitude of 40,000 feet (12,192 m) and “posed a reasonable threat to the safety of civilian flight.”

He continued, “Out of great caution and at the recommendation of the Pentagon, President Biden ordered the military to knock down the object, and they did. And it entered our territorial waters – and those waters are currently frozen – but within territorial airspace and over territorial waters. Warplanes assigned to US Northern Command shot down the object within the last hour.”

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Friday, February 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) Credit: Susan Walsch/AP

It is the second time in less than a week that US warplanes have shot down an object flying over US airspace. The Biden administration has been faced with questions about how to deal with a suspected Chinese spy balloon that hovered over the nation last week before being shot down in the Atlantic Ocean off the Carolinas coast on Saturday.

While the president stood by how he and his administration handled the balloon, he was criticized by Republicans for allowing the suspected spy balloon to fly over much of the country before being shot down.

The new object, Kirby added, was shot down by US Northern Command fighter jets “near the Canadian border” on frozen waters in the Arctic Ocean.

“The general area would be just off the very, very northeastern part of Alaska near the Canadian border,” Kirby said of the site.

The object was first brought to the attention of the US government “last night”. Kirby told reporters that the US assessed the “object” as unmanned before it was eventually shot down.

“We were able to get a few fighter jets on and around it before the order to shoot it down was given, and the pilots’ assessment was that that was unmanned,” Kirby said.

Kirby also offered some guidance on the nomenclature of the object, which the US does not refer to as a balloon and has yet to be attributed to China or some other entity.

“We call this an object because that’s the best description we have right now. We don’t know who owns it — whether it’s state, corporate, or private, we just don’t know,” Kirby said.

He added: “We have no information that would confirm a stated purpose for this object. We assume we can recover the debris as not only did it fall into our territory but also onto what we believe to be frozen water. So a recovery will be undertaken and we hope it will be successful and then we can learn a little bit more about that.”

The object is “much, much smaller” than the spy balloon suspected by the Chinese, Kirby said, comparing it to “about the size of a small car.” The balloon shot down last Saturday was described by US officials as being about the size of three buses.

Biden was “absolutely involved in this decision” and ordered it on the recommendation of Pentagon leaders, Kirby said.

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James Brien

James Brien is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. James Brien joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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