Alaska ‘military assets’ surveyed suspected Chinese surveillance balloon
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The U.S. military in Alaska deployed “military assets” to survey the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon, according to Sen. Dan Sullivan.
In a Saturday afternoon interview with Alaska’s News Source, Sullivan said it was his understanding the Alaska military investigated the suspicious balloon when it entered Alaska and U.S. airspace. The balloon was struck down over the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday morning.
“Our very fine military assets here were deployed to go check it out and track it,” Sullivan said. “And that’s what they’re supposed to do.”
Sullivan said he wasn’t clear on the exact route the balloon took over Alaska, or whether Alaska military leadership requested to shoot the balloon down. Sullivan said that he will be briefed more about the military’s response to the balloon on Sunday.
“The Alaska command leadership team and their intel assets are really good,” Sullivan said. “So that’s what I’m going to get briefed on tomorrow.”
The balloon’s route across the continent, according to U.S. defense and military officials, began on Jan. 28 north of the Aleutian Islands. It’s unclear exactly the route the balloon took across the United States, with some news outlets reporting the balloon then flew across Alaska and Canada before entering the Lower 48 on Tuesday over Idaho. The president was in support of shooting it down sooner, however, military officials were worried about the risk posed to individuals if the balloon was shot over land.
Both Sens. Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski were in support of shooting down the balloon.
“Taking this Chinese surveillance balloon down was the right call and I commend all who played a role in the successful execution of that mission,” Murkowski said in an emailed statement. “I look forward to being fully briefed on the incident, but find it unacceptable that the balloon crossed into U.S. airspace over Alaska en route to the Lower 48.”
Sullivan said he believed the balloon should have been shot down “right when it was coming into Alaska airspace.”
“We did finally shoot it down but after it traversed the entire United States of America,” Sullivan said. “Now, I also know that at the same time, we were doing intel collections on it. So perhaps we got more intel out of this against the Chinese than vice versa. These are going to be some of the questions that I’m asking. But I think overall, you know, we need to just remember we are in a major long-term competition with the Chinese Communist Party.”
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