Chinese Spy Balloon Shot Down Off The Coast Of South Carolina
On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced that the high-altitude surveillance balloon traversing the United States throughout the preceding days had been shot down.
The balloon, according to Austin, was being used by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to surveil “sensitive” military sites throughout the continental United States.
PRC officials have not backed down from their initial claim that the balloon was merely being used for monitoring weather and accidentally blew off course into Canadian and American airspace.
The Biden administration and the Defense Department had received criticism, primarily from the Republicans, over their decision not to shoot down the balloon earlier.
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Trump killed Sulmani in Iraq & Baghdadi in Syria – Biden can’t shoot down a balloon the size of 3 school buses over Montana.
— Joe Kent for WA-3 (@joekent16jan19) February 3, 2023
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) February 3, 2023
Shoot down the balloon. Cancel Blinken’s trip. Hold China accountable.
Biden is letting China walk all over us. It’s time to make America strong again.
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) February 3, 2023
Would Trump have let China fly a spy balloon over our country?
No, no, no, and no.
So why’s Biden letting China off the hook?
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) February 3, 2023
The Balloon was eventually shot down off the coast of South Carolina.
The Defense Department, likely in response to criticism over its handling of the situation, claimed that they waited until the balloon was over the ocean to shoot it down due to safety concerns for American citizens.
“Military commanders determined that there was undue risk of debris causing harm to civilians while the balloon was overland,” said one senior defense official.
The balloon was detected by U.S. officials on January 28 over the Aleutian islands, the far-western archeological region in Alaska. The balloon then traversed the rest of Alaska, flew over several Canadian provinces, and finally returned to U.S. airspace over Idaho. The balloon then flew over the Midwest and parts of the South, before a U.S. Airforce F-22 fighter jet shot it down between 60,000 and 65,000 feet above sea level.
In a later press conference, senior defense officials revealed that this is not the first time that PRC balloons have breached U.S. airspace in recent history.
“PRC government surveillance balloons transited the continental United States briefly at least three times during the prior administration and once that we know of at the beginning of this administration, but never for this duration of time,” said one senior defense official during the on-background press briefing.
Senior military officials also acknowledged another PRC surveillance balloon flying over Latin America that is being tracked closely by the Defense Department.
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