Tension as US shoots down Chinese Spy Balloon over Atlantic
The United States has shot down a Chinese Spy Balloon over the Atlantic Ocean off the Eastern Seaboard of America.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed on Saturday that US fighter jets shot down the Spy Balloon on the order of President Joe Biden.
The CNN quoted Austin as saying that recovery efforts began shortly after the balloon was downed.
Austin said American fighter aircraft “successfully brought down the high-altitude surveillance balloon launched by and belonging to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) over the water off the coast of South Carolina in US airspace.”
According to him, Biden gave his authorization “as soon as the mission could be accomplished without undue risk to American lives under the balloon’s path.”
Before downing the Balloon, three airports were closed and airspace was shut down off the South Carolina coast as US military planes targeted the object over the Atlantic Ocean.
According to BBC, Biden faced intense pressure to shoot it down since it first appeared across the US last week.
Tracking website Flightradar24 showed US Air Force and Coastguard aircraft operating in the skies between Wilmington, North Carolina, and Myrtle Beach.
Biden who spoke with reporters said on Wednesday, when he was briefed on the balloon, he ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down as soon as possible.
He said they decided without doing damage to anyone on the ground.
CNN reports that prior to the balloon being shot down, the Federal Aviation Administration had issued a ground stop for airports in Wilmington, North Carolina, and Charleston and Myrtle Beach in South Carolina.
The FAA also restricted airspace near Myrtle Beach “to support the Defense Department in a national security effort.”
On Friday, the Pentagon said the balloon did not pose a military or physical threat. A defense official told CNN that US Northern Command was coordinating with NASA to determine the debris field if the balloon was to be shot down.