The U.S. military on Friday took down an object flying over Alaskan airspace days after shooting down a Chinese spy balloon along the South Carolina coast, the White House confirmed.
John Kirby, a national security spokesperson for the White House, said the Defense Department was tracking a “high-altitude object” over Alaska at 40,000 feet that posed “a reasonable threat to the safety of civilian flight.
The object was shot down within the last hour at President Biden’s direction, Kirby said, and landed in U.S. waters.
The government is still collecting information about the object, Kirby said. It is not yet known whether it was operated by another country or if it was privately or commercially owned. Kirby also would not say if the object was a balloon or another device.
“We’re calling this an object because that’s the best description we have right now,” he told reporters.
“We don’t understand the full purpose. We don’t have any information that would confirm a stated purpose for this object,” he continued, adding that officials expect to be able to recover the debris.
The object was shot down by military aircraft that are part of U.S. Northern Command. The object first came to the administration’s attention on Thursday night, and Biden was briefed on the matter at that time, Kirby said.
The decision to take down the object over Alaska comes six days after Biden directed the military to shoot down a Chinese spy balloon days after it was first discovered floating over the continental United States.