The US shot down on Saturday what it says was a Chinese language spy balloon after the item drifted over the US for a number of days after which sailed out over the Atlantic Ocean.
“This afternoon, on the path of President Biden, U.S. fighter plane assigned to U.S. Northern Command efficiently introduced down the excessive altitude surveillance balloon launched by and belonging to the Folks’s Republic of China (PRC) over the water off the coast of South Carolina in U.S. airspace,” Secretary of Protection Lloyd J. Austin III mentioned in an announcement.
The US army had been monitoring the balloon all week, with the Pentagon saying that Biden was first briefed about it Tuesday. The article had been seen over Montana, the place a number of nuclear missile silos are primarily based. Whereas the balloon was over land, the Pentagon had suggested in opposition to taking pictures it down over issues concerning the hazard from falling particles.
“On Wednesday, President Biden gave his authorization to take down the surveillance balloon as quickly because the mission may very well be completed with out undue threat to American lives underneath the balloon’s path,” Austin mentioned in his assertion Saturday.
China mentioned Friday that the balloon was primarily used for meteorological analysis and that its entry into US airspace wasn’t intentional. However US Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned the identical day that his division was “assured” the balloon was getting used for surveillance. Blinken canceled his deliberate weekend journey to Beijing.
The balloon’s destruction is the newest growth in rising tensions between the US and China. In October, the Biden administration introduced limits on exporting semiconductor expertise to China, in a transfer geared towards slowing the progress of Chinese language army packages. And a few US lawmakers are pushing to ban widespread social media app TikTok, whose guardian firm is predicated in China, saying a ban is required to guard Individuals from Chinese language spying and propaganda.
A Division of Protection information merchandise posted late Saturday mentioned the balloon was taken down by a AIM-9X Sidewinder missile fired by an F-22 Raptor fighter. When hit, the balloon was at an altitude of between 60,000 and 65,000 ft, and it fell about six miles offshore into roughly 50 ft of water, the Protection Division mentioned. Nobody was damage. US Navy and Coast Guard vessels are trying to find particles, with no estimate of how lengthy restoration efforts will take.
In a tweet Saturday, Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer referenced efforts to retrieve the downed balloon and its payload. “Now we are able to gather the gear and analyze the expertise utilized by” China, the New York Democrat tweeted.
Varied movies circulated on social media Saturday purporting to indicate the balloon being shot down: