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Mon, Feb 13, 2023

F-22 Shoots Down Unknown Object Overflying Alaska

Bigger than a Bread Basket, Smaller than a Chinese Spy Balloon

On Friday, 10 February 2023, a U.S. military fighter jet shot down an unknown object transitioning Alaska’s remote northern coast.

The White House reported the order to bring down the object was issued by Joe Biden, who was criticized for failing to order the shooting down of a Chinese spy balloon which traversed U.S. sovereign airspace between 28 January and 04 February 2023.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby alleged the object overflying Alaska was downed not on account of any knowledge it was engaged in surveillance, but because it was maintaining an altitude of approximately FL400, thereby posing a “reasonable threat” to civilian air traffic.

Of the event, Biden stated only: “It was a success.”

Kirby described the object as roughly the size of a small car.

Upon its detection, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) dispatched F-35 Lightning II fighter jets to observe and reconnoiter the mystery object—so stated a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity as he/she is not authorized to speak publicly to the topic of sensitive national security matters. The unnamed official stated also that the U.S. military had queried U.S. government agencies about the mysterious object for purpose of ensuring it did not belong to any of them. Only after ascertaining the object was neither a U.S. government, intelligence, nor military asset did the U.S. Air Force (USAF) take decisive action against it.

The downings of the unknown object over Alaska and the Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina in such close succession are extraordinary, and speak to the American Executive Branch’s heightened concerns over China’s increasingly aggressive surveillance of the U.S. and increasingly vehement public pressure on Biden to toughen stand against it.

The White House drew distinctions between the two episodes but stopped short of confirming the latest object’s origin, purpose, and whether it carried surveillance equipment.

Similarly reticent, the Pentagon declined to provide a precise description of the Alaska object, stating only that U.S. pilots who observed it first-hand had determined it appeared to be unmanned. Pentagon officials further stated subject mystery object was far smaller than the Chinese spy balloon, did not appear to be maneuverable, and was traveling at a much lower altitude.

Kirby maintained that Biden, based on the advice of the Pentagon, believed the Alaska object to be of sufficient concern to shoot it out of the sky—ostensibly because of the potential risk it represented to civilian aircraft.

“We’re going to remain vigilant about our airspace,” Kirby prevaricated. “The president takes his obligations to protect our national security interests as paramount.”

Pentagon Press Secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder set forth that an F-22 Raptor fighter jet based at Alaska’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson shot down the object using an AIM-9X short-range air-to-air missile, the selfsame weapon used to rid American skies of the Chinese spy balloon several days prior. Ryder disclosed the Alaska object was traveling northeast when it was brought down, and reported that a number of U.S. military helicopters had deployed to the crash-site with orders to undertake recovery efforts.

Unlike the spy balloon, which was downed to live feeds and had U.S. citizens looking anxiously skyward, the Alaska object was observed by few on the ground insomuch as it overflew The Last Frontier state’s North Slope—a desolate, bitter cold region, the principal municipalities of which—Deadhorse and Kaktovik—retain a combined population of approximately three-hundred.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)—in preparation for the Alaska object’s departure from existence—restricted flights through a roughly ten-square-mile block of U.S. airspace off Alaska’s Bullen Point, the site of a disused U.S. Air Force radar station, some 126-nautical-miles from the Canadian border, inside the Arctic Circle.

Following a brief but meaningful assignation with an AIM-9X missile, the mystery object fell to Earth, landing off Alaska’s north coast on the frozen waters of the Beaufort Sea. U.S. officials posit recovery of the object’s debris will be accomplished in short order.

FMI: www.defense.gov, www.norad.mil

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