Sullivan Commends Alaska Military Personnel for Successful Shoot-down of Unidentified Object Violating U.S. Airspace

Senator Underscores Need to Reestablish Deterrence with China

WASHINGTON—In an interview this evening on Fox Business Network’s “The Bottom Line,” U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) commended the U.S. military personnel who tracked, intercepted and shot down an unidentified flying object violating U.S. airspace in the northeast part of Alaska. The incursion comes about one week after a Chinese spy balloon was shot down by a U.S. fighter jet off the coast of South Carolina after flying across much of the United States, including Alaska. Sen. Sullivan, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), pressed senior Defense Department officials to shoot down any other unidentified, potentially threatening objects following the spy balloon incursion. Sullivan also argued that these incidents underscore the importance of reestablishing deterrence for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).


MCDOWELLA high altitude object shot out of the skies over Alaska today. The White House saying it posed a reasonable threat to the safety of civilian flights. Joining us now is the senator from Alaska, Dan Sullivan. Senator, thank you so much for being here. Tell us what you know and what you've learned in the last few hours about this object, even where it's from. 

SULLIVANWell, Sean and Dagen, thank you for having me on the show. It's been a busy day. Another object over the great state of Alaska, my state. I want to begin by doing a shout-out to our Alaska military. These are not easy military operations. It's integrated Active Duty forces, National Guard forces. We have search-and-rescue forces out in Alaska right now, but it was shot down at about 1:45pm. They've been tracking it all night. It started coming in from western Alaska near Nome. What we don't know yet is where it came from. No connection yet to China, but we have a recovery operation going on right now, about eight miles off the coast of the northern part of Alaska. It's ice there, right now, so hopefully we're going to find pieces in terms of the debris from this shot-down object and then we're going to know. But there's a broader issue here that I think this was important today: We need to be reestablishing deterrence over our own country with regard to these unidentified objects or spy balloons. That's why, this morning when I was briefed by the Northern Command commander, when they were tracking this, I strongly recommended this time, shoot it down. They did it. I commend them for an exceptional military operation. But there's a lot more to know and we need answers. 

DUFFYSenator, you're right. Deterrence is so important in playing against China or any adversary. I was in Congress for ten years and I was in those joint briefings from the Pentagon, and they don't give you much information. Do you feel like you got an actual good briefing—that you got all updated information from your briefers? Were they leveling with the Congress, leveling with you? 

SULLIVANWell, Sean, as you probably know, the whole U.S. Senate was briefed yesterday on the China balloon and that was a classified briefing. Some of the things that came out of that briefing, from my perspective, were kind of frustrating. One was, they weren't sure they had the authority to shoot down a spy balloon over Alaska—U.S. authorities. I said, of course you do! That was a frustrating part. Today, I will say, was a little bit different. I was briefed by the NORTHCOM Commander prior to the shoot-down. When they were tracking it, they gave me, I believe they gave Senator Murkowski, my colleague in the Senate, and our governor, a heads-up. We appreciated that. And then we got a good briefing after and particularly from Alaskan Command. That's the subordinate command, the 11th Air Force in Alaska. They do an exceptional job. There's still a lot of unanswered questions. I think we're going to learn more when it comes to the recovery operation, which could take quite some time. But this issue of reestablishing deterrence. The Chinese, obviously, for the last several years have thought they could violate American airspace with impunity. That's what they've been doing. And if this is a Chinese asset—we don't know yet—but then I think it's going to be very important that when it came in, we shot it down.

DUFFYSenator Sullivan, thank you for your clarity and sharing what information you have with us on the Bottom Line. We appreciate your service. 

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