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.