April 24, 2024

Alaskan flight was diverted due to airspace closure and military activity around “high-altitude object”

From CNN’s Paradise Afshar

An FAA warning due to military activity surrounding the “high-altitude object” Friday led ConocoPhillips to turn back a plane carrying workers to an oil field on Alaska’s North Slope to Anchorage, company spokesperson Dennis Nuss told CNN.

“There is no threat to our North Slope operations and our flights have resumed. The ConocoPhillips-operated Q400 (aircraft) left Anchorage on a scheduled flight at 7:19 a.m. ConocoPhillips received notification through the (Federal Aviation Administration) of the restricted airspace and returned to Anchorage at 8:17 am arriving at 9:17 am. We resumed this flight today and departed at 12:09 from Anchorage to Alpine,” said Nuss.

Defense minister says Canada supported US decision to shoot down an object over Alaska

From CNN’s Paula Newton

Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand addresses the media in Ramstein-Miesenbach, southwestern Germany, on January 20.
Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand addresses the media in Ramstein-Miesenbach, southwestern Germany, on January 20. (Andre Pain/AFP/Getty Images)

Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand released a statement expressing support for the US shooting down an object over Alaska on Friday, saying the object never flew into Canadian airspace.

Anand said the joint US-Canada aerospace agency NORAD deployed aircraft to track and monitor the object and helped with the decision-making process.

Eventually, the defense minister wrote, she “conveyed Canada’s support for taking action to take down this object.”

“The Canadian Armed Forces, the Department of National Defence and I will continue to work closely with our American allies to ensure the protection of North American airspace,” Anand said.

Alaska Sen. Murkowski says the state is the “first line of defense for America” after latest incident

From CNN’s Jessica Jordan

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, questions Interior Secretary Haaland during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the budget on July 13, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. 
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, questions Interior Secretary Haaland during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the budget on July 13, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington.  (Mariam Zuhaib/AP)

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said the shooting down of an object over Alaska on Friday was the latest example of her state’s larger significance to US defense.

Friday’s incident came less than a week after the military shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the coast of the Carolinas, after officials say it drifted across a large swath of the country after entering US airspace near Alaska.

“I’ve driven this point home for years, and we have now been reminded twice in the past week: Alaska is the first line of defense for America,” Murkowski said in a statement.

“When threats to America come to Alaska’s doorstep, we respond,” the senator added.

The “high-altitude object” did not appear to have any surveillance equipment, a US official says

From CNN’s Oren Liebermann and Haley Britzky

The “high-altitude object” that was shot down Friday did not appear to have any surveillance equipment, according to a US official, which would make it both smaller and likely less sophisticated than the suspected Chinese balloon shot down last weekend.

Canadian PM says he was briefed on shooting down the object and “supported the decision to take action”

From CNN’s Kevin Liptak

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted Friday he was briefed on the shoot down of the “high-altitude object” hovering over Alaska this afternoon and “supported the decision to take action.”

The object was shot down near the Canadian border on frozen water in the Arctic Ocean, the White House said.

Military deemed shooting down the object no major risk to people or property on the ground, US official says

From CNN’s Oren Liebermann and Haley Britzky

The “high-altitude object” shot down Friday was targeted about 10 miles off the northern coast of Alaska, a US official told CNN, and the military did not deem the operation a serious risk to people on the ground.

The object was significantly smaller than the suspected Chinese spy balloon shot down last Saturday, the official noted.

After first detecting the object Thursday, the military sent F-35 fighter jets to investigate, the official said. The object was ultimately shot down Friday afternoon by an F-22 fighter jet with an AIM-9X, the same type of aircraft and missile used to shoot down the Chinese balloon off the coast of South Carolina.

The official said the Pentagon was not seriously concerned about collateral damage to people or property on the ground when deciding to shoot the object down.

Defense Department officials and NORAD, the joint US-Canada aerospace agency, wanted to shoot down the object during the daytime because the brief hours of sunlight in the far north would make the slow-moving object easier to spot for a fast-moving jet, the official said.

Military leaders expressed confidence that the object was not an asset belonging to the US military or government.

Senate intelligence committee staff brief on downed Alaska object, source says

From CNN’s Manu Raju

Staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee were briefed Friday on the downed “high-altitude object” over Alaska, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said President Joe Biden gave the order to down the object, which Ryder said was roughly 40,000 feet over Alaska and posed a “reasonable threat to civilian air traffic.”

Biden says mission to shoot down object over Alaska was a “success”

From CNN’s DJ Judd

President Joe Biden awaits the arrival of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Friday afternoon.
President Joe Biden awaits the arrival of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Friday afternoon. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Asked if he had any comment on the object shot down over Alaska, President Joe Biden told CNN that “it was a success.”

Biden was waiting on the South Lawn of the White House for Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to arrive Friday afternoon.

Biden gave the order to down a “high-altitude object” earlier Friday, according to John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications.

Pentagon: Object shot down near Alaska was not similar in size or shape to the suspected Chinese spy balloon

From CNN’s Haley Britzky

The “high-altitude object” shot down near Alaska Friday was not similar in size to the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon shot down last weekend, according to Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder.

“We have no further details about the object at this time, including any description of its capabilities, purpose or origin,” Ryder said. “The object was about the size of a small car, so not similar in size or shape to the high-altitude surveillance balloon that was taken down off the coast of South Carolina.”

Ryder declined to characterize the latest object as a balloon, but said it was roughly 40,000 feet over Alaska and posed a “reasonable threat to civilian air traffic.” Ryder added that there was no indication the object was manned.

Pentagon cites threat to air traffic as reason to down “high-altitude object”

Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder speaks to the media on Friday.
Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder speaks to the media on Friday. (CNN)

When asked why this “high-altitude object” was downed by the US but the suspected Chinese spy balloon that transversed the US last week was not, here’s how Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder responded:

“You have to look at each individual case on its own merits. In this particular case, given the fact that it was operating at an altitude that posed a reasonable threat to civilian air traffic, the determination was made and the president gave the order to take it down,” he told reporters.

Ryder reiterated that officials do not know where the object is from.

He added that there is “no indication at this time that it was maneuverable, but again we’ll know more” later on.

The US downed the object over frozen water near the Canadian border, White House says

From CNN’s Betsy Klein and Jasmine Wright

National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby talks to the media on Friday.
National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby talks to the media on Friday. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The object shot down by the US on Friday was downed near the Canadian border on frozen water in the Arctic Ocean, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said.

“The general area would be just off the very, very northeastern part of Alaska near the Canadian border,” Kirby said of the location.

The object first came to the attention of the US government Thursday evening, according to Kirby.

He told reporters the US assessed the “object” to be unmanned before it was eventually shot down.

“We were able to get some fighter aircrafts up and around it before the order to shoot it down, and the pilots’ assessment was: this was not manned,” Kirby said.

The object was then shot down by an F-22 fighter jet from Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, according to Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder.

CNN’s Michael Conte contributed to this report.

Biden gave order to shoot down object this morning, official said

From CNN’s Betsy Klein

President Joe Biden gave the order to shoot the object down this morning, according to John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications.

Biden was first briefed Thursday night “as soon as the Pentagon had enough information,” he added.

Kirby explained that the object did not appear to be self-maneuvering, making it “much less predictable,” which led to the president’s decision to take it down.

There were two efforts to get closer to the object as it was in the air — one from fighter aircraft late last night and one from a flight earlier this morning, Kirby said, adding that both engagements yielded limited information.

Kirby did not provide a timeline for recovering the downed object.

US is not referring to object as a balloon and has not attributed it to China or any other entity

From CNN’s Betsy Klein

The US is not referring to the high-altitude object downed near Alaska as a balloon and has not attributed it to China or any other entity.

“We’re calling this an object because that’s the best description we have right now. We don’t know who owns it – whether it’s state-owned or corporate-owned or privately-owned, we just don’t know,” said John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications.

“We don’t have any information that would confirm a stated purpose for this object. We do expect to be able to recover the debris since it fell not only within our territorial space, but on what we believe is frozen water. So a recovery effort will be made and we’re hopeful that it will be successful and then we can learn a little bit more about it.”

The object was “much, much smaller” than the suspected Chinese spy balloon downed off the coast of the Carolinas on Saturday, Kirby said, comparing it to “roughly the size of a small car.” The balloon downed last Saturday was described by US officials as approximately the size of three buses.

As military targeted the “high-altitude object,” FAA issued temporary flight restriction

From CNN’s Betsy Klein

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a temporary flight restriction Friday in the area around Deadhorse, Alaska, as the military shot down what the US is describing as a “high-altitude object.”

The notice was issued at 12:45 p.m. ET.

The notice told aircraft to clear the area, declaring it National Defense Airspace. It warned that pilots who did not adhere to the protocols could be “intercepted, detained and interviewed by law enforcement/security personnel.”

It also warned that FAA could take civil or criminal action.

Biden ordered military to down a “high-altitude object” over US waters, White House announces

From CNN’s Betsy Klein

National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby talks to reporters at Friday's White House briefing.
National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby talks to reporters at Friday’s White House briefing. (Oliver Contreras/Sipa USA/AP)

The White House announced that President Joe Biden ordered the military to down what it described as a “high-altitude object” hovering over Alaska on Friday afternoon.

Fighter jets shot down the object at 1:45 p.m. ET.

“The Department of Defense was tracking a high-altitude object over Alaska airspace in the last 24 hours,” John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, told reporters when asked about rumors of another suspected Chinese surveillance balloon.

The object, Kirby said, was flying at an altitude of 40,000 feet and “posed a reasonable threat to the safety of civilian flight.”

“Out of an abundance of caution and at the recommendation of the Pentagon, President Biden ordered the military to down the object, and they did. And it came inside our territorial waters – and those waters right now are frozen — but inside territorial airspace and over territorial waters. Fighter aircraft assigned to US Northern Command took down the object within last hour,” he said.

CNN’s Michael Callahan contributed reporting to this post.

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