After Balloon Controversy, US Shoots Down 'Car-Sized UFO' Over Alaska

After Balloon Controversy, US Shoots Down 'Car-Sized UFO' Over Alaska
A US F-22 fighter jet has shot down another unidentified flying object, this time over Alaska, officials say, days after the heated 'Chinese balloon' controversy.

The latest craft, an object the size of a small car, was downed by a Sidewinder missile, Reuters quoted US Brig Gen Patrick Ryder, Pentagon's chief spokesperson, as saying.

"We don't know who owns this object," said White House spokesperson John Kirby, adding the origin of the flight is also unknown.

The shootdown was ordered by President Joe Biden, which was complied by the authorities concerned.

According to Pentagon, the object was first seen using ground radars, and F-35 aircraft were then sent to probe it. The UFO was flying some 40,000 feet (12,190 metres) to the northeast, and was seen as a risk to civilian air traffic.

On Feb 3, officials detected a suspected Chinese spy balloon that had been 'flying for a couple of days', a 'brazen act' just days ahead of a planned trip to Beijing by the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“The United States government has detected and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now,” Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Patrick Ryder had told reporters.

“The balloon is currently travelling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground.”

Fighter jets were mobilised but military leaders advised President Biden against shooting the balloon out of the sky for fear debris could pose a safety threat, which was granted, US officials said.

The military took “custody” of the balloon and observed it with a piloted US military aircraft. The incident recalls the lengths to which Beijing and Washington have been willing to go to ‘spy’ on each other amid rising tensions between the superpowers.

Blinken is expected to travel to China son for a visit agreed to in Nov by Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. It was not clear how the discovery of the spy balloon might affect those plans.

US officials brought up the issue with their Chinese counterparts through diplomatic channels in Beijing and in Washington. “We have communicated to them the seriousness with which we take this issue,” a US official was quoted as saying at the time.

US Senator Marco Rubio, top Republican on Senate's intelligence committee, had termed the spy balloon 'alarming, but not surprising'.