A jet flies by a suspected Chinese spy balloon at Surfside Beach in South Carolina, US, on February 4, 2023.
Randall Hill | reuters
The US shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon off the Carolina coast on Saturday and will attempt to recover its wreckage, according to a US official.
The action came hours after President Joe Biden responded to a reporter who asked whether the US would shoot down the balloon. In his first public comments about the balloon, Biden said, “We’ll take care of that.”
Speaking to reporters after the balloon was shot down, Biden said he ordered the Pentagon after being informed on Wednesday.
“They decided – without harming anyone on the ground – they decided the best time to do this was when the water was gone,” he said. “They successfully took it down and I want to congratulate our aviators who did it. And we’ll have more to report on this a little later.”
According to a senior defense official, the balloon was shot down by a single missile by an F-22 Raptor at 2:39 pm. The balloon was between 60,000 and 65,000 feet in the air when it was brought down.
A senior US military official told NBC News that debris from the balloon stretched about seven miles and Navy divers from ships as well as Navy divers are expected to help recover the pieces.
A suspected Chinese spy balloon drifts into the ocean after being shot down off the coast in Surfside Beach, South Carolina, on February 4, 2023.
Randall Hill | reuters
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement that the balloon was shot down off the coast of South Carolina.
“This afternoon, at the direction of President Biden, US fighter jets assigned to US Northern Command successfully brought down a high-altitude surveillance balloon launched by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) over the waters off the coast of South Carolina. US airspace,” Austin said.
“The balloon, being used by the PRC in an attempt to survey strategic sites in the continental United States, was brought over US territorial waters,” he said.
Biden on Wednesday gave his Authorization to take the balloon down as soon as the mission could be accomplished without risk to American life below the path of the balloon. people over a wide area due to the size and height of the balloon and its surveillance payload.”
The senior defense official said the balloon entered US airspace north of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska on January 28 before entering Canadian airspace on Monday. It re-entered US airspace in northern Idaho on Tuesday.
According to a statement from the FAA, residents of North Carolina and South Carolina reported sightings of the spy balloons, and the Federal Aviation Administration suspended departures and arrivals at three local airports to support the Department of Defense in a “national security effort”. Gave. ,
Videos are circulating on social media showing fighter jets targeting the spy balloon and taking it down. Planes are seen approaching the balloon before it begins to drop from the sky.
Some lawmakers applauded Biden’s decision to remove the spy balloons on social media.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted after the news, “I strongly condemn President Xi’s brazen intrusion into US airspace, and I will take down the Chinese balloon over water to ensure the safety of all Americans.” I applaud President Biden’s leadership in going.” “Now we can collect the equipment and analyze the technology used by the CCP.”