U.S. shoots down second ‘high altitude object’ days after Chinese spy balloon

National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby speaks during the daily briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on February 10, 2023.
Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military shot down a “high altitude object” in American airspace off the coast of Alaska on Friday, the White House announced, less than a week after a similar object was shot down off the coast of South Carolina.

“We’re calling this an object because that’s the best description we have right now,” said White House spokesman John Kirby, adding “we don’t know what entity owns this object.”

The object was destroyed by a missile from a U.S. fighter plane “off the very very north eastern part of Alaska, near the Alaska-Canada border,” said Kirby, speaking at a White House press briefing.

Kirby said the U.S. military first became aware of the object on Thursday night, and shot it down Friday shortly after midday.

The craft was flying at approximately 40,000 feet in altitude, which is lower than the balloon last week, and it was the size of a small car, he said.

The spy balloon shot down this past weekend was approximately the size of three school buses, according to Pentagon officials.

The latest incident differed significantly from the previous high-altitude balloon in that this object was shot down within hours of its detection.

The larger, previous balloon was permitted to float across the United States for a week.

The Pentagon defended that decision at a Senate hearing on Thursday, telling senators that the balloon’s primary value to the U.S. military lay in what could be learned from its flight course and its debris.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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