U.S. Fighter Jet Shoots Down Mystery Object Flying Over Alaska

U.S. officials have revealed that China has established an aerial surveillance program across five continents, with balloons of various sizes and capabilities spotted in more than 40 countries.[0] On Friday, a U.S. fighter jet shot down an unidentified object flying high over Alaska, which the Pentagon believes was part of this massive surveillance program.[1]

The U.S. Northern Command detected the object through ground radar on Thursday, Feb. 9, and sent F-22 fighter jets from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to surveil the object.[2] One forty[3] Eastern Time, one of the fighters fired an AIM-9X Sidewinder missile that hit and destroyed the object, the same aircraft-missile combination that downed the high-altitude Chinese balloon last Saturday.[4]

Responding to reporters' questions about the shootdown, President Joe Biden called the operation a “success.”[5] The Pentagon is unsure of the object's origin, whether it belonged to China or another nation.[6] They are now in the process of salvaging the wreckage and mapping the debris field in the hopes of determining its purpose and capabilities.

Lawmakers are putting increased pressure on the Biden administration to protect U.S. airspace from potential foreign threats and surveillance, prompting the takedown.[7] The president has come under fire from Republicans — and some Democrats — for not acting sooner to shoot down a Chinese surveillance balloon, flying at 60,000 feet, that first entered U.S. airspace over Alaska Jan. 28.[8] The aircraft eventually flew over all of the contiguous United States before being taken down off the coast of South Carolina.[8]

The recovery operation is taking place in a mix of ice and snow with active duty and National Guard units stationed in Alaska, the Pentagon said.[8] The U.S. plans to recover the debris and hopes to learn more about the object, its capabilities, purpose, and origin.[9]

0. “‘High-altitude object’ shot down over Alaska, U.S. says” The Washington Post, 10 Feb. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/02/10/military-shootdown-alaska/

1. “Unidentified object shot down over Alaska by US military, White House says” The Guardian US, 10 Feb. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/feb/10/alaska-us-military-unidentified-object-white-house

2. “F-22 Shoots Down ‘High-Altitude Object' Over Alaska, But Details Are Scarce | Air & Space Forces Magazine” Air & Space Forces Magazine, 10 Feb. 2023, https://www.airandspaceforces.com/f-22-shoots-down-high-altitude-object-over-alaska-origins-unclear

3. “U.S. Shoots Down Another High-Flying ‘Object' Over Alaskan Coast” TIME, 11 Feb. 2023, https://time.com/6254743/us-shoots-down-object-alaska/

4. “Everything we know about the mysterious ‘object’ shot down by US warplanes in Alaska” The Independent, 10 Feb. 2023, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/us-object-alaska-balloon-b2280181.html

5. “U.S. shoots down “high-altitude object” over Alaska at the direction of President Biden, White House says” CBS News, 11 Feb. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-shoots-down-high-altitude-object-alaska/

6. “U.S. Downs Flying Object Near Alaska, Nearly a Week After Shooting Down Chinese Surveillance Balloon – USNI News” USNI News, 10 Feb. 2023, https://news.usni.org/2023/02/10/u-s-downs-flying-object-near-alaska-nearly-a-week-after-shooting-down-chinese-surveillance-balloon

7. “Biden Admin Shoots Down a Second High-Altitude ‘Object'” The Daily Beast, 10 Feb. 2023, https://www.thedailybeast.com/biden-admin-shoots-down-a-high-altitude-object-over-alaska

8. “US shoots down unknown ‘high-altitude object' over Alaska, White House says” ABC News, 10 Feb. 2023, https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-shoots-high-altitude-object-alaska-white-house/story?id=97040022

9. “U.S. shoots down ‘high-altitude object' over Alaskan airspace, White House says” NBC News, 10 Feb. 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/us-shoots-flying-object-alaska-airspace-white-house-says-rcna70166