In a bold move, the United States military has shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon that was flying over the Atlantic Ocean. This event has garnered significant attention, as the balloon was off the coast of South Carolina and shot down by U.S. military fighter jets on Saturday afternoon.
A senior U.S. military official has confirmed that an F-22 was used to bring down the balloon at 58,000 feet and a single A9X missile was fired. The U.S. government is confident that the surveillance balloon is from the People’s Republic of China. In response to this situation, President Biden gave his authorization to take down the balloon as soon as the mission could be accomplished without undue risk to American lives.
The U.S. government had previously spotted the balloon over Montana but decided not to shoot it down due to potential risks to individuals on the ground. After careful analysis, U.S. military commanders determined that shooting the balloon down over land would pose an undue risk to people across a wide area, given the size and altitude of the balloon and its surveillance payload.
The decision to shoot down the balloon was made in coordination with the Canadian government, who contributed to tracking and analysis of the balloon through NORAD as it transited North America. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin, III stated that the action was taken to demonstrate that the U.S. will always prioritize the safety and security of the American people while responding effectively to any violations of its sovereignty.
In response to the U.S. military’s actions, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry has claimed that the balloon is a “civilian airship” being used for meteorological purposes and deviated from its planned course due to the Westerlies and limited self-steering capability.
However, the Pentagon does not believe this claim, as a senior U.S. official has stated that the balloon was intentionally flying and initially took off from mainland China. As a result of the surveillance balloon, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has canceled a scheduled trip to China. Director of the CCP Central Foreign Affairs Office, Wang Yi, has stated that China follows international law and does not accept any groundless speculation and hype.
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The U.S. military’s bold actions have sparked international attention, as the shoot-down of the suspected Chinese spy balloon demonstrates the U.S.’s commitment to protecting its sovereignty and the safety of its citizens. This event serves as a warning to any nation that might try to violate the U.S.’s territorial waters or airspace.