Chinese Surveillance Balloon Shot Down


The suspected Chinese surveillance balloon floats off the coast of Surfside Beach, South Carolina show above an F-22 fighter jey dispatched from Langley Air Force base. Photo courtesy of AP

Hexie Dimmett, Copy Editor

The initial civilian sighting of the Chinese surveillance balloon occurred on Feb. 1st of this year. However, the balloon had been monitored for longer by the Pentagon as it entered United States’ air space on Jan. 28th over Alaska.

The balloon drifted between US and Canadian airspace, eventually making its way over Montana, home to the Malmstrom Air Force Base. The Air Force base stores a large amount of the United States’ nuclear arsenal. The balloon passed over other sensitive military locations before drifting down to South Carolina, where it was finally shot down on Feb. 4th.

The balloon was shot down off the coast of Surfside Beach, South Carolina by two F-22 Raptors scrambled from the nearby Langley Air Force Base. The balloon produced debris with a radius of approximately 4,921 feet by 4,921 feet, or around 3 football fields. Combined Navy and FBI diver teams are still in the process of recovering debris for further investigation, although it is believed by the Biden Administration to be a part of a larger surveillance program.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry claimed the balloon to be a civilian weather balloon and threatened repercussions to the United States’ aggressive action. This incident has only worsened the growing tension between the US and China.

Between Feb. 10th and 12th, three other unidentified objects were spotted. US officials downed one of these objects off the coast of Alaska. Another was shot down in Canadian airspace. The last of the three unidentified objects was shot down over the Great Lakes region by the US military.

On Feb. 16th, President Joe Biden addressed the nation and assured the public that the three unidentified aircraft were likely from private companies rather than the result of any Chinese surveillance program. He also added that he would be speaking to President Xi Jiping, although he did not specify when.