Black Immigrant Daily News
Two US Air Force F-22 fighter jets on Saturday shot down the Chinese spy balloon that had floated clear across America’s airspace — eight days and more than 4,000 miles after it first breached the US border.
“I want to compliment our aviators who did it,” President Biden told reporters as he cheered the downing en route to Camp David.
The two planes, both based at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Vir., circled the surveillance craft as it neared the coast of South Carolina, while the Federal Aviation Administration shut down three airports in North and South Carolina and closed the airspace over Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Wilmington due to “national security initiatives.”
Once the balloon had floated a safe distance into the Atlantic, one of the F-22s took aim with a single AIM-9X missile, a senior military source said.
The supersonic, heat-seeking, air-to-air projectile hit its mark at 2:39 p.m. about 7 miles off the shore of Myrtle Beach.
The huge white orb – as large as three school buses, experts said – deflated in a puff of white smoke, its remains trailing behind as its heavy solar panels and surveillance equipment plunged down into the sea below.
US Navy and Coast Guard vessels secured a perimeter to allow “capable Navy divers” and unmanned vessels to recover the debris, which came to rest in about 47 feet of water, officials said.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed the Chinese craft “was being used by the PRC in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States.”
The Biden administration shot down the balloon over the Atlantic Ocean.AP
“Today’s deliberate and lawful action demonstrates that President Biden and his national security team will always put the safety and security of the American people first,” Austin said.
Local airports resumed normal operations about an hour after the balloon went down, the FAA said.
Officials in Horry County, S.C., warned locals to steer clear of any debris that washed up on local beaches, and to notify authorities if they spot any remnants, which will be part of a federal investigation.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin slammed the device as an “unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.”Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Dexter Roberts, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Asia Security Initiative, said the spy balloon saga came as the relationship between the United States and China hit “one of its lowest points in many years.”
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