U.S. Fighter Jet Downs Chinese Surveillance Balloon in U.S. Airspace
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden authorized the U.S. military to take down a suspected Chinese spy balloon that had been floating over the continental United States. The balloon, which was determined to be roughly the size of three Greyhound buses, was carrying heavy surveillance equipment and posed a threat to national security. The U.S. government considered shooting the balloon down, but ultimately opted against it out of concern that the resulting debris could endanger those on the ground.
The Pentagon said Thursday night that they had detected and were tracking the balloon, and the U.S. scrambled jets after detecting it on Wednesday. China's Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed on Friday that the balloon was theirs, while insisting it was merely a “civilian airship” used for weather research that accidentally wafted into U.S. airspace.
The balloon's presence come at a time of increased tension between China and the U.S. over national security, and the news prompted Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone a scheduled trip to Beijing.
A U.S. fighter jet downed the Chinese surveillance balloon off the coast of the Carolinas on Saturday, according to the Pentagon. Under President Joe Biden's orders, the operation was conducted in American airspace while the balloon was floating above the sea.
The United States government has not yet disclosed the kind of espionage technology that is present on the Chinese balloon; they have only stated that the “large payload” would not grant China any new observation abilities beyond what is accessible to them through the spy satellites orbiting the Earth.
The balloon's presence has caused a major uproar on social media, with the FAA announcing they have paused departures to Wilmington (ILM), Myrtle Beach (MYR) and Charleston (CHS) airports to support the Department of Defense in a national security effort. This incident has highlighted how vulnerable the U.S. homeland is, and it is important to take the necessary steps to protect national security.
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