The U.S. military has shot down the suspected Chinese spy balloon that has been in the sky above the continental United States this week.
The suspected Chinese surveillance balloon was shot down on Saturday morning while it was over the Atlantic Ocean off the Carolina coast. On Saturday, South Carolina residents caught video footage of the hostile foreign country’s spy balloon being shot out of the sky.
Just shot at it! View from my house in Myrtle. pic.twitter.com/85EZ3EDbYq
— Ashlyn Preaux for SC 61 (@ashlynforsc) February 4, 2023
“This afternoon, at the direction of President Biden, U.S. fighter aircraft assigned to U.S. Northern Command successfully brought down the high altitude surveillance balloon launched by and belonging to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) over the water off the coast of South Carolina in U.S. airspace,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in a statement.
Biden told reporters on Saturday that he ordered the Pentagon to shoot down the spy balloon on Wednesday.
Biden: “On the balloon, I ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down on Wednesday as soon as possible [for safety] … they successfully took it down.” pic.twitter.com/2GbSzejnZI
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 4, 2023
When reporters asked Biden earlier on Saturday about the balloon, he told them, “We’re gonna take care of it.”
The Secretary of Defense statement noted:
The balloon, which was being used by the PRC in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States, was brought down above U.S. territorial waters. On Wednesday, President Biden gave his authorization to take down the surveillance balloon as soon as the mission could be accomplished without undue risk to American lives under the balloon’s path. After careful analysis, U.S. military commanders had determined downing the balloon while over land posed an undue risk to people across a wide area due to the size and altitude of the balloon and its surveillance payload. In accordance with the President’s direction, the Department of Defense developed options to take down the balloon safely over our territorial waters, while closely monitoring its path and intelligence collection activities.
This action was taken in coordination, and with the full support, of the Canadian government. And we thank Canada for its contribution to tracking and analysis of the balloon through NORAD as it transited North America. Today’s deliberate and lawful action demonstrates that President Biden and his national security team will always put the safety and security of the American people first while responding effectively to the PRC’s unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.
The Federal Aviation Administration temporarily closed the airspace over the coastline of the Carolinas, the Associated Press reported. This included “the airports in Charleston and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Wilmington, North Carolina. The FAA rerouted air traffic from the area and warned of delays as a result of the flight restrictions,” according to the AP.
The balloon was reportedly flying about 60,000 feet above the ground, and was estimated to be the size of roughly three school buses. An operation is now underway to recover the debris from the object.
U.S. civilians first discovered the spy balloon floating over their homes on Thursday. Residents from Montana shared video footage of the object in the sky.
UFO or Elon Musk? Witness Shares Initial Thoughts After Reportedly Seeing Chinese Balloon pic.twitter.com/pUL2aIAD4R
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) February 3, 2023
On Friday, the Pentagon confirmed that a second Chinese spy balloon had been identified flying over Latin America.
You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.