A U.S. fighter jet shot down an unidentified object flying off the coast of Alaska today on orders from President Biden. The New York Times reports that a White House spokesperson confirmed the incident happened, but details are still scarce. It may have been another Chinese spy balloon, but that has yet to be confirmed.
It will likely take some time to figure out exactly what it was, as the flying object was shot down before it could be identified. The military plans to attempt to recover what’s left of it, but at this time, the White House says it doesn’t know where the object came from or who sent it. But whatever it was, it was reportedly “roughly the size of a small car,” making it much smaller than the previous Chinese spy balloon that was shot down over the weekend and contained a payload that was as big as multiple buses.
Officials haven’t even confirmed that today’s object was a balloon, but they did say that pilots confirmed it was unmanned. They say there were “no affirmative indications of military threat” to Alaskans. But because it was traveling at a height of about 40,000 feet, the Pentagon reportedly believed it could be a threat to civilian aircraft, and President Biden ordered it shot down “out of an abundance of caution.”
With so little information officially available, it’s hard to draw any conclusions about what the object was or why it was in U.S. airspace, but if it actually was a Chinese spy balloon, that’s not good.
“If it was another Chinese spy balloon, that indicates that China is either incompetent in operating these platforms or potentially deliberately provoking the U.S.,” former Pentagon official Michael P. Mulroy told The New York Times. “It is also important for the U.S. and China to maintain direct communications during times like this. Especially between the militaries.”
Whatever it was, though, it’s definitely not a threat anymore.