US shoots down Chinese balloon at sea, moves to collect debris
(new nation) — The US shot down a Chinese balloon off the Carolina coast and its wreckage is now being recovered.
The balloon, which the Pentagon said China had been using for surveillance, was shot down by a U.S. aircraft at about 2:05 p.m. ET, military sources told NewsNation.
Earlier in the day, the United States temporarily restricted airspace in the region in preparation for the operation.
on twitter Federal Aviation Administration It said it had suspended flights to and from Carolina airports in Wilmington, Myrtle Beach International Airport and Charleston International Airport “to assist the Department of Defense in its national security efforts.”
The FAA warned of delays due to flight restrictions and rerouted air traffic from the area.
President Joe Biden said earlier Saturday that officials were “going to take care” of the balloon, which had been flying over the United States for several days.
Four U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity at the time, told The Associated Press that the Biden administration was considering plans to shoot down the balloon.
China claims the balloon is simply a weather research “airship” that was blown off course, a claim the Pentagon denies. Defense officials say the balloon was indeed for surveillance.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was originally supposed to go to Beijing on Sunday for talks aimed at easing tensions between the US and China. I was.
China disregarded this cancellation in a statement Saturday morning.
“In fact, the United States and China have never announced a visit, and it is their own business for the United States to make such an announcement, which we respect,” the Chinese foreign ministry said. Stated.
Some conservatives, including former President Donald Trump, Shoot ahead. But Biden had previously chosen not to, on the advice of his legal team, because falling debris could pose a danger to residents on the ground.
“Currently, we assess that this balloon has limited added value from an information-gathering perspective.” In a previous statement, the Department of Defense“However, we take steps to protect against the collection of sensitive information by foreign intelligence agencies.”
But former Maj. Gen. Larry Stutzriem, director of research at the Mitchell Aerospace Institute, told NewsNation’s Leland Wittelt, China’s spy balloons are very close to land and far clearer than previous satellites. claimed to capture the image. .
“There was a statement from the Department of Defense saying, ‘Hey, the Chinese can get all this with satellites.’ Um, no. Satellites are up about 350 miles,” he said. “This is about 12 miles away, so if the balloon is properly rigged, you can see cat whiskers from the balloon.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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