Rep. Mary Sattler Peltola issued a statement on Friday after the Biden administration announced the U.S. Department of Defense shot down an unidentified object--termed a "high-altitude object"--over the Arctic Circle in Alaska around 9:45 - Alaskan time (1:45 p.m. - EST). Peltola, who is the first Alaska Native to serve in Congress, is the at-large member of the House of Representatives.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said from the White House on Friday said the object was flying at 40,000 feet that posed a reasonable threat to the safety of civilian flight. Upon the reommendation by the Pentagon, President Biden approved the shooting down. The object was estimated to be the size of a small automobile.
The object was first spotted on Thursday night. The military became aware of the object's usage of ground-based radar. The military then sent a F-35 jet to observe it and determined the object was not manned.
Rep. Peltola's congressional office was briefed by the Dept. of Defense on Friday morning, according to a statement.
"I commend our military for their swift and skillful operation to track, study, and eliminate this object after confirming that it was a potential threat operating in civilian airspace," Peltola said in the statement.
Peltola's office said: "This incident reinforces Alaska’s strategic importance and the necessity of investing in our Arctic defenses. Our incredible pilots at Elmendorf and Eilson AFBs are vital links in the protection of Alaska and the United States, and they proved that today."
"I join my fellow delegation members in expecting answers from our military leaders for how unidentified objects have been able to infiltrate our airspace in recent weeks. We need to be aware of any other such objects over Alaska. The Defense Department must thoroughly investigate and close this gap in our domain awareness. Continued violations of sovereign American airspace cannot be allowed," Peltola said.
Friday's shoot down of the object came less than a week after the military shot down a Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina over the Atlantic Ocean.
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