The US military shot down an unknown object off the coast of Alaska on the orders of President Joe Biden on Friday, February 10. This was announced by Rear Admiral of the US Navy, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, reports The New York Times (NYT).
According to him, the object was flying at an altitude of 12 thousand meters, which made it a potential threat to civilian aircraft, its fragments fell on the ice in the sea. Officials are not aware of whether the object belonged to any state or corporation and for what purpose it flew over the US state.
Several officials told the publication that they believed the downed object was a balloon. A defense ministry spokesman said the object broke apart as it fell into the frozen sea, so it's not clear if it was a balloon or a drone. The object was about the size of a small car, Kirby said, much smaller than the Chinese reconnaissance balloon that was shot down last week.
On Feb. 11, the US blacklisted five Chinese companies and one research institute linked to China's spy balloon program, Reuters reported . According to the publication, this will make it more difficult for companies and the institute to gain access to technology exports from the United States.
In early February, a Chinese reconnaissance balloon hovered over the United States for several days. At the beginning, the Pentagon assured that they would not shoot it down, since China already has such information thanks to its satellites, and an unsuccessful fall of the ball could harm residential facilities. However, the balloon was later shot down by the United States, after which the Chinese authorities protested . A similar balloon was seen over Latin America, Beijing admitted that both this balloon and the device shot down in the USA belong to China. NYT, citing the State Department, reported that the Chinese balloon was equipped with electronic intelligence equipment, such balloons flew over more than 40 countries.