WASHINGTON: The US Department of Defence recently confirmed that its fighter jets had brought down a Chinese balloon over US territorial waters.
China’s Foreign Ministry expressed “strong dissatisfaction and protest against the US’s use of force to attack civilian unmanned aircraft”.
Footage on US TV networks showed the balloon falling to the sea after a small explosion.An F-22 jet fighter engaged the high-altitude balloon with one missile and it went down about six nautical miles off the US coast, a defence official told reporters.
Defence officials told US media the debris landed in 47ft (14m) of water – shallower than they had expected – near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The military is now trying to recover debris. Two naval shipsfor recovery are in the area.
In a Pentagon statement, a senior US Defence official said, “while we took all necessary steps to protect against the PRC [China] surveillance balloon’s collection of sensitive information, the surveillance balloon’s overflight of US territory was of intelligence value to us.”We were able to study and scrutinise the balloon and its equipment, which has been valuable,” he added.
US President Joe Biden had been under pressure to shoot it down since Defence officials first announced they were tracking it. He later said: “They successfully took it down, and I want to compliment our aviators who did it.”