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Thursday, March 23, 2023

US Air Force shoots down Chinese spy balloon off South Carolina

On the afternoon of February 4, the United States shot down a spy balloon while it was in United States airspace over water off the southeast coast of North Carolina. South.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement that a high-altitude observation balloon launched by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was shot down on the orders of President Joe Biden by American fighters assigned to the US Northern Command. The PRC balloon “tried to be used to monitor strategic installations on the American continent”.

President Biden gave his authorization to destroy the balloon on February 1, but on the condition that the mission be completed as soon as possible without undue risk to the lives of Americans.

After careful analysis, the U.S. military command, the Secretary of Defense said in a statement, has determined that a balloon crash over land poses an unreasonable risk to people over a wide area due to its size, payload and flight altitude. Therefore, in accordance with the President’s instructions, the Pentagon developed options for the safe destruction of the balloon over territorial waters, closely monitoring its trajectory and data collection activities.

The Minister noted that all actions were taken in coordination and with the support of the Government of Canada; he thanked Canada “for its contribution to the tracking and analysis of the balloon within the framework of the NORAD system”. The minister said the approach to dismantling the balloon “demonstrates that President Biden and his team will always prioritize the safety of the American people by effectively responding to China’s unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.”

On February 4, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) suspended civil aviation activity at three airports to “ensure national security”, the agency said – including Myrtle International Airport. Beach in South Carolina. The FAA imposed a temporary flight ban to clear airspace around the South Carolina coast, halting about 260 square kilometers of air traffic – mostly over the Atlantic Ocean.

A Reuters photographer later reported that he saw the balloon and two fighter jets side by side, then “the jet escaping from the jet hit the balloon, there was no explosion, but the ball started to fall”.

President Joe Biden said on the morning of February 4 that the United States “will take the necessary measures” in connection with said balloon. When asked by reporters if the balloon would be shot down, President Biden ostensibly gave a thumbs up and did not reveal details of the operation.

The balloon was spotted over Montana on February 1. By the morning of February 4, it was already over North Carolina, the AccuWeather service reported. On February 3, the Pentagon said another Chinese balloon had been sighted over South America, without specifying where.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has postponed a visit to China that was scheduled to begin on February 3. The US Secretary of State’s last visit to China was in 2017.

China expressed regret that the balloon used for civil meteorological and other scientific purposes violated US airspace. China’s Foreign Ministry said on February 4 that its flight over the United States was an accident caused by unstoppable forces of nature and accused American politicians and media of taking advantage of the situation to discredit China. .

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