US fighter downs Chinese spy balloon allegedly monitor key military.
US Department of Defense announced that its fighter aircraft shot down the Chinese Balloon above US territory. Later, China’s Foreign Ministry expressed “strong displeasure and protest” over the US’s use of force to target civilian unmanned aircraft.
Footage shown on US television networks showed the balloon crashing into the sea after a tiny explosion. An F-22 jet fighter fired one missile, an AIM-9X Sidewinder, at the high-altitude balloon, which crashed about six nautical miles off the US coast at 14:39 EST (19:39 GMT), according to a defense official.
The military is currently attempting to recover debris that has stretched over seven miles (11km). Two Naval Ships are in the region, one of which has a large crane for recovery.
“While we took all necessary efforts to protect against the PRC [China] surveillance balloon’s gathering of sensitive material, the surveillance balloon’s overflight of US territory was of intelligence value to us,” a senior US defense official said in a Pentagon statement.
“We were able to inspect and scrutinise the balloon and its technology, which was quite beneficial,”
Since defense authorities first stated they were tracking it on Thursday, US President Joe Biden has been under pressure to condemn it. Mr. Biden later stated, “They successfully knocked it down, and I want to commend our aviators who accomplished it.”
The Chinese foreign ministry issued a statement a few hours later, saying, “The Chinese side has repeatedly told the US side after verification that the blimp is for civilian use and entered the US due to force majeure – it was absolutely an accident.”
The discovery of the balloon kicked off a diplomatic crisis, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken immediately cancelling off this weekend’s trip to China over the “irresponsible act”.
The Chinese officials have denied that it is a surveillance plane and instead claim that it is a weather ship that has gone awry.