Officials said the United States has shot down a massive Chinese surveillance balloon that was discovered earlier this week above Montana. While China claimed it was a "civil aircraft used for meteorological purposes," officials said it was being used for surveillance.
The Department of Defense claims that fighter jets were used to destroy an object that had landed in US territorial waters. The incident has escalated tensions between Washington and Beijing, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken has now postponed his planned visit to China.
A Chinese Surveillance Balloon was shot down in US airspace.A Chinese surveillance balloon was shot down in US airspace.
Three airports were shut down on Saturday and the coasts of North and South Carolina were closed. Government officials have stated that 'the balloon did not pose a physical or military danger,' and that the US took steps to protect against foreign intelligence gathering of sensitive information.
At 2:39 p.m., an F-22 fighter jet launched a single AIM-9X air-to-air missile into the balloon, causing it to plummet into the ocean.
The Pentagon has issued a statement saying that President Biden authorized the demolition of the'surveillance balloon' as soon as the mission could be completed without any undue danger to American lives under the balloon's path.' The officials waited to remove the balloon because of its value to the United States' safety.
"The surveillance balloon's overflight of US territory was of intelligence value to us," said the authorities. "We were able to study and examine the balloon and its equipment, which has been valuable."
The Defense Secretary makes a statement.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued a statement following the operation: "A US fighter jet assigned to U.S. Northern Command successfully dismantled the People's Republic of China (PRC) high altitude surveillance balloon launched off the coast of South Carolina in US airspace."
"The balloon, which was being used by the RRC to intercept strategic sites in the continental United States, was brought down above US territorial waters," according to military commanders. "Due to the size and altitude of the balloon and its surveillance payload, people across a wide area were at danger," said one.
President Biden insists that he told them to shoot down the bomb.
President Joe Biden told the media on Saturday that he ordered the Pentagon to shoot down the Pentagon as soon as possible. They concluded that the best time to do that was when the water got over a 12-mile limit.
"They successfully took down the jet," said the President, who I'll have more to report on later.
Stay tuned for additional information and updates.