A U.S. official told CNN that the “high-altitude object” shot down on Friday was targeted about 10 miles off Alaska’s northern coast, and the military did not believe the operation posed a serious threat to personnel on the ground.
The official noted that the object was much smaller than the suspected Chinese spy balloon that was shot down on Saturday.
After the object was first spotted on Thursday, the military sent F-35 fighter jets to investigate, the official said. The object was eventually brought down Friday afternoon by an F-22 fighter jet equipped with an AIM-9X, the same type of aircraft and missile that brought down the Chinese balloon off the coast of South Carolina.
The Pentagon did not seriously consider collateral damage to people or property on the ground when it decided to shoot down the object, the official said.
Defense Department officials and NORAD, the joint U.S.-Canadian aerospace agency, wanted to shoot down the object during daylight hours because brief periods of sunlight in the far north would make it easier for fast-moving jets to spot the slow-moving object, the official said.
Military leaders expressed confidence that the object was not a property of the U.S. military or government.