Alaska in Brief

Sullivan: ‘Several other unidentified objects’ also traveled over Alaska

By: - February 10, 2023 3:30 pm

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, walks down a hallway Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, at the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

After a U.S. Air Force fighter jet shot down an unidentified object over Alaska’s North Slope on Friday, Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said several other similar objects have traveled over the state in recent weeks.

“There were things that were seen on radar but weren’t explained,” he said, “so I don’t know what they were, but I think our military is trying to figure that out as well.”

“But this had similar signatures,” he said, comparing Friday’s object to the prior ones.

Sullivan did not cite the source of his information, but he is among the members of the Senate Committee on Armed Services and regularly receives classified briefings.

An on-duty public affairs officer at the Pentagon, asked about Sullivan’s comment, said he was unable to confirm it at this time.

“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,” said U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, in a prepared written statement.

It was not immediately clear whether she was referring to the multiple objects that Sullivan referred to.

“We need to be aware of any other such objects over Alaska,” Peltola said.

Sullivan and other legislators have criticized the federal government’s failure to shoot down a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon before it crossed the United States and was downed by a fighter jet.

This week, the Washington Post reported that the balloon shot down off South Carolina was part of a vast aerial surveillance program. 

On Friday, Sullivan said he wasn’t certain whether the object shot down over the North Slope was another balloon or whether it was from China. 

He said it was moving at about 40 knots — about 46 mph — and had no wings. The object was somewhere “between a 55 gallon drum and a small Volkswagen” in size, Sullivan said.

It entered Alaskan airspace near Nome and moved northeast, he said. 

Other officials said the object didn’t appear to have any ability to maneuver itself.


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James Brooks
James Brooks

James Brooks is a longtime Alaska reporter, having previously worked at the Anchorage Daily News, Juneau Empire, Kodiak Mirror and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. A graduate of Virginia Tech, he is married to Caitlyn Ellis, owns a house in Juneau and has a small sled dog named Barley. He can be contacted at [email protected].