On Friday, February 10th, 2023, an unidentified object was shot down 10 miles off the coast of Alaska by US fighter jets. This is the second time in less than a week that US jets have taken down an object, following the shooting down of a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina last Saturday. The object was shot down at 1:45 p.m. EST according to Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder.
Briefing by the National Security Council
National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby told reporters that the object came inside the territorial waters of the US and over territorial airspace. Kirby stated, “Fighter aircraft assigned to US Northern Command took down the object within last hour.” When asked about the operation, President Joe Biden said, “It was a success.” Biden was first briefed on the object on Thursday evening as soon as the Pentagon had enough information. Kirby stated that the object “did not appear to be self-maneuvering.”
Physical Characterization of the Unidentified Object
It remains unclear what the object looks like or where it came from. Ryder stated that the object was traveling north east across Alaska and was about the size of a small car. He added that it was not similar in size or shape to the Chinese surveillance balloon that was shot down off the coast of South Carolina on February 4th. Kirby stated, “We’re calling this an object because that’s the best description we have right now. We don’t know who owns it – whether it’s state-owned or corporate-owned or privately-owned, we just don’t know.”
Detection and Shooting Down of the Unidentified Object
F-35 fighter jets were sent up to investigate the object after it was first detected on Thursday. The object was shot down near the Canadian border and northeastern Alaska by a F-22 fighter jet equipped with an AIM-9X. The military waited to shoot the object down during daylight hours to make it easier for the pilots to spot it. The Alaska National Guard, units under US Northern Command, HC-130 Hercules, HH-60 Pave Hawk, and CH-47 Chinook are participating in the effort to recover the object.
No Connection to the Chinese Balloon
Officials have given no indication so far that the object is related to the Chinese surveillance balloon that was shot down last weekend. Ryder stated that recovery teams have “mapped the debris field” of the Chinese balloon and are “in the process of searching for and identifying debris on the ocean floor.” He added, “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.”
Statement By Alaska Governor
Governor Dunleavy’s statement highlights the crucial role that Alaska plays in national security, given its close proximity to foreign borders and territories. The recent shooting down of an unidentified object over Alaskan waters has brought to light the need for swift decision-making and the importance of having a robust military capability in the state. The incident has sparked a discussion about improving the capabilities of the military in Alaska, including the army, air force, and navy, to ensure the territorial integrity of Alaska and the United States.
The Alaska National Guard is working closely with USNORTHCOM and other agencies to provide support as requested, showing the state’s commitment to national defense. Overall, Governor Dunleavy’s statement underscores the significance of Alaska as the most strategic place on earth for geopolitics and national defense.
The shooting down of an unidentified object off the coast of Alaska by US fighter jets raises many questions about the object’s origin and purpose. Despite a lack of information, officials have confirmed that the object posed a reasonable threat to civilian air traffic as it was flying at 40,000 feet. The recovery effort by the Alaska National Guard and units under US Northern Command is ongoing, and further updates are expected to provide more information about the object.
In recent years, there have been multiple instances of unidentified flying objects in the US airspace, with some incidents still shrouded in mystery. For example, the 2004 incident involving multiple F/A-18 fighter jets chasing an unidentified flying object off the coast of California, and the 2019 incident involving US Navy pilots