An F-22 Raptor fighter jet that took off from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia shot down the Chinese “Spy” balloon.
The United States Air Force has finally shot down an alleged Spy Balloon from China. The object was shot down off the coast of South Carolina, and the military will attempt and recover the fragments before they sink into the ocean. The mysterious object was shot down after it crossed the entire country and caused a diplomatic break between the two powers. The balloon was launched from Chinese territory and reached the Aleutian Islands off Alaska on January 28, arriving in Canada only two days later.
The balloon, which China has maintained is for meteorological purposes, but the US insists it has been spying on, could be seen on television collapsing and falling from the sky. Several videos on YouTube show the object being shot down, crashing to the surface. A senior military official told reporters that the balloon had been brought down by a single missile fired from an F-22 Raptor fighter jet that took off from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.
Official: Chinese PLA balloons have traversed airspace in 5 continents, including East Asia, South Asia and Europe
— Brian Everstine (@beverstine) February 4, 2023
Before the military dispatched the F-22, they declared an aviation exclusion area off the coast of South Carolina. Following the successful strike, a salvage operation was underway as both Navy, and Coast Guard vessels were reportedly tasked with recovering the fragments in a 7-mile debris field. While some debris did not sink, other heavier parts of the “weather balloon” did. However, Aviation Week quoted a senior military official saying the debris was in 47-foot-deep water, so it would be relatively easy to recover. To ensure that no debris was missed, Navy divers and unmanned craft were sent out to the area where the debris was located, ensuring that all pieces of the wreckage were recovered from the bottom of the ocean.
NORTHCOM confirms call signs of F-22s – "FRANK01" and "FRANK02" was homage to WWI flying ace and U.S. Army Air Service Medal of Honor recipient First Lieutenant Frank Luke Jr, better known as the "Arizona Balloon Buster" who downed 14 balloons.https://t.co/E7dmuceZu2
— Howard Altman (@haltman) February 4, 2023
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is quoted saying that the People’s Republic of China was using the balloon to attempt to surveil strategic military sites over the continental United States. The Balloon was shot down after President Biden approved the mission.
A video of the balloon being shot down is seen below.