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Fighter jet shoots down object flying over Alaska

The object that was shot down at the "eleventh hour" was flying over "territorial waters" at an "altitude of 40,000 feet and posed a reasonable threat to civil flight safety."

John Kirby anuncia el derribo de un objeto no identificado que sobrevolaba Alaska.


National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby confirmed at a press conference Friday that fighter jets shot down a "high-altitude object" flying over Alaska:

I can confirm that the Department of Defense was tracking a high altitude object over Alaskan airspace within the last 24 hours. Fighter jets assigned to the U.S. Northern Command shot down the object in the last hour.

The object was the size of a small car and was flying at about 40,000 feet (12,192 meters). Kirby said that President Joe Biden ordered the military to shoot it down, based on the Pentagon's recommendation and because it posed a reasonable threat to civilian flight safety:

The object was flying at an altitude of 40,000 feet and posed a reasonable threat to civil flight safety. It entered, within our territorial waters, those waters at this moment are frozen, but within the territorial airspace (...) We do not know who this object belongs to (...) The way it was described to me was approximately the size of a small car rather than a payload that was the size of two or three buses.

Kirby added that the "object" was "much, much smaller than the Chinese spy balloon" that was shot down last Saturday. He stressed that a fighter plane verified that the object was unmanned, although "it was difficult for the pilots to get much information."

We were able to lift some fighter planes and surround it before the order was given to shoot it down. And the pilots' assessment was that it was unmanned. It was difficult for the pilots to get much information (...) There was a limit to what they could guess.

Washington does not know "the purpose" of the aircraft

Pentagon press secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said Friday afternoon that the military has located a significant amount of debris from the object:

Debris that's been recovered so far is being loaded on to vessels taken ashore, cataloged, and then moved onwards to labs for subsequent analysis. And while I won't go into specifics due to classification reasons, I can say that we have located a significant amount of debris so far that will prove helpful to our further understanding of this balloon and its surveillance capabilities.

"We have no further details about the object at this time, including any description of its capabilities, purpose or origin," Ryder added.