An experienced F-15 fighter pilot told the media that some of the details released by U.S. officials about the object shot down over Alaska on Friday are “unusual.”
The unidentified object reportedly had a “cylindrical shape” and was much smaller in size than the Chinese spy balloon that was shot down last week.
“We have no further details about the object at this time, including any description of its capabilities, purpose or origin,” said Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder. “The object was about the size of a small car, so not similar in size or shape to the high-altitude surveillance balloon that was taken down off the coast of South Carolina.”
A U.S. official told Politico that the object did not appear to have any “observable surveillance equipment.” The object was reportedly flying around 40,000 feet, making it a threat to civilian aircraft.
Randy Reep, an experienced F-15 pilot, said the size of the object was suspicious.
“In modern times, the opportunity to see drones in the air is not uncommon,” said Reep. “What you’re seeing that’s unusual is the size of these unmanned vehicles that are transient in our airspace.”
Reep said that U.S. officials would not shoot down the object “until they knew it was an unmanned vehicle.”
“They will have to wait to have all the data so they can provide a good briefing on the exact situation that it was,” Reep said.
The news comes after the U.S. military used an F-22 Raptor last week to shoot down a Chinese spy balloon over the Atlantic Ocean using a single air-to-air AIM-9X Sidewinder missile that was fired at an altitude of approximately 58,000 feet. The decision to shoot down the spy balloon came after President Joe Biden allowed it to fly thousands of miles over the continental U.S.
The latest breach of U.S. airspace happened late Thursday night over Alaska. Because of how quickly events unfolded, officials were not able to confirm to reporters whether the object was from a foreign nation.