After China scared with a balloon, the Air Force shot down an object flying over the northern slope of Alaska.

An F-22 fighter jet from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson shot down an unidentified object flying over the northern slope of Alaska on Friday, White House officials said.

The 9:45 a.m. Alaska time shooting came less than a week after an Air Force fighter jet shot down a Chinese reconnaissance balloon off the coast of South Carolina.

Federal officials repeatedly refused to say whether the object was a balloon.

John Kirby, the National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications at the White House, told a press conference that Friday’s object was “much, much smaller” than a Chinese surveillance balloon and was “the size of a small car.”

Kirby said it wasn’t immediately clear if the object was from China.

President Joe Biden ordered the object to be shot down, Kirby said. He said he was flying at an altitude of about 40,000 feet and could pose a threat to commercial aviation.

NORAD, in charge of air defense over North America, detected the object using ground-based radar on Thursday, according to the Department of Defense.

Kirby said the fighter inspected him visually. The President gave his order Friday morning after consulting with the military, and the aircraft made a second visual inspection before the object was shot down by an air-to-air missile.

Kirby said the overflights showed little.

“They did everything they could, but again the speed and conditions at the top and the size of the object made things a little more difficult,” he said.

Brig. General Pat Ryder, a spokesman for the Department of Defense, said the origin of the object is not yet known. He declined to say how fast the object was moving.

“We will know more when we can potentially recover some of these materials. But the main concern was again the potential danger to civilian flights,” he said.

On Friday morning, the Federal Aviation Administration imposed a temporary restriction on flights over Prudhoe Bay, parts of the North Slope and the Arctic Ocean. At least one oil worker flight was delayed, according to a schedule announcement provided by Alaska Beacon by one of the workers.

State Representative Josiah Patkotak, I-Utqiagvik, represents the North Slope and said there is limited air traffic in the area – scheduled service between Utqiagvik and Kaktovik, as well as commercial flights bringing cargo and passengers to Prudhoe Bay.

After being shot down, the object fell onto sea ice in the open sea.

Online flight tracking services indicated that a C-130 from Elmendorf Air Force Base circled south of Prudhoe Bay for most of the morning before taking off into the sea and circling over a location northeast of Prudhoe Bay.

Ryder said helicopters were also involved in the work.

At a congressional hearing this week, Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she was outraged that an earlier Chinese balloon was allowed to travel across Alaska and most of the United States before it was shot down.

Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska referred to the balloon during his annual address to state lawmakers this week and said after the first shooting that the incident “cannot set a precedent for further Chinese Communist Party aggression.”

Patkotak said Friday’s incident points to the need to develop military infrastructure on the North Slope to respond to such incidents. According to him, any such development should be carried out only after consultation with local communities.

State news reporter Ashley Murray contributed to this report from Washington, DC.

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