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An FAA warning due to military activity surrounding the "high-altitude object" Friday led ConocoPhillips to turn back a plane carrying workers to an oil field on Alaska’s North Slope to Anchorage, company spokesperson Dennis Nuss told CNN.
“There is no threat to our North Slope operations and our flights have resumed. The ConocoPhillips-operated Q400 (aircraft) left Anchorage on a scheduled flight at 7:19 a.m. ConocoPhillips received notification through the (Federal Aviation Administration) of the restricted airspace and returned to Anchorage at 8:17 am arriving at 9:17 am. We resumed this flight today and departed at 12:09 from Anchorage to Alpine,” said Nuss.
Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand released a statement expressing support for the US shooting down an object over Alaska on Friday, saying the object never flew into Canadian airspace.
Anand said the joint US-Canada aerospace agency NORAD deployed aircraft to track and monitor the object and helped with the decision-making process.
Eventually, the defense minister wrote, she "conveyed Canada’s support for taking action to take down this object."
"The Canadian Armed Forces, the Department of National Defence and I will continue to work closely with our American allies to ensure the protection of North American airspace," Anand said.
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said the shooting down of an object over Alaska on Friday was the latest example of her state's larger significance to US defense.
Friday's incident came less than a week after the military shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the coast of the Carolinas, after officials say it drifted across a large swath of the country after entering US airspace near Alaska.
“I’ve driven this point home for years, and we have now been reminded twice in the past week: Alaska is the first line of defense for America," Murkowski said in a statement.
"When threats to America come to Alaska’s doorstep, we respond,” the senator added.
The "high-altitude object" that was shot down Friday did not appear to have any surveillance equipment, according to a US official, which would make it both smaller and likely less sophisticated than the suspected Chinese balloon shot down last weekend.
The object was shot down near the Canadian border on frozen water in the Arctic Ocean, the White House said.
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.
Staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee were briefed Friday on the downed "high-altitude object" over Alaska, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said President Joe Biden gave the order to down the object, which Ryder said was roughly 40,000 feet over Alaska and posed a “reasonable threat to civilian air traffic.”
Asked if he had any comment on the object shot down over Alaska, President Joe Biden told CNN that “it was a success.”
Biden was waiting on the South Lawn of the White House for Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to arrive Friday afternoon.
Biden gave the order to down a “high-altitude object” earlier Friday, according to John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications.