Mar 6, 2024 - World

Defense officials examine potential spy balloon found off Alaska coast

 This aerial photograph taken on March 8, 2023 shows The Pentagon, the headquarters of the US Department of Defense, located in Arlington County, across the Potomac River from Washington, DC.

This aerial photograph taken on March 8, 2023 shows The Pentagon, the headquarters of the US Department of Defense, located in Arlington County, across the Potomac River from Washington, DC. Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

The Department of Defense is examining whether debris that fisherman found off the coast of Alaska last week is from a spy ballon, CNN first reported and Axios confirmed Wednesday.

The big picture: The find on Friday comes just over a year since an American fighter jet shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon that flew over the U.S.

  • This is the first time the Pentagon has confirmed that what the fishermen found last week was from a balloon.

State of play: "The debris is currently at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and has been transferred to a DoD facility," Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough said in an emailed statement on Wednesday evening.

  • "We do not know why the balloon was in the waters off the coast of Alaska nor are we going to characterize it at this time," Gough said.
  • But officials "hope to learn more about the balloon's origin and purpose after further analysis of the materiel, which will be conducted by multiple agencies."

Flashback: The Chinese balloon escalated tensions between Beijing and Washington as it flew over the U.S. for about a week before it was shot down over the Atlantic, near South Carolina.

Go deeper: Pentagon: Chinese balloon shot down over U.S. did not gather intelligence

Go deeper