The Chinese surveillance balloon that entered US airspace was destroyed by an AIM-9X missile launched by an F-22 Raptor fighter on Saturday, January 4th.
The US Air Force (USAF) decided to wait for the artifact to reach the Atlantic Ocean before destroying it. F-22 fighters from Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, took off towards the coast of South Carolina, where only one missile shot was fired that destroyed its envelope – videos taken from the ground captured the moment of impact.
The delay in shooting down the balloon, however, caused discomfort to President Joe Biden, who was questioned by the lack of action in relation to the case.
🚨#BREAKING: Incredible HD footage of the Chinese surveillance balloon being shot down
Watch incredible HD video of the moment when the Chinese surveillance balloon was shot down by a single missile from an F-22 fighter jet from Langley Air Force Base pic.twitter.com/KjwTrgcvcb
— R A W S A L E R T S (@rawsalerts) February 4, 2023
China acknowledged having launched the balloon, but that it would only serve meteorological research and that it had deviated from its course due to winds.
The flying object is believed to have arrived in North America on January 28 via Alaska, heading towards Canada and then entering the northwest US via Montana.
The passage through the state raised suspicions about Chinese espionage since a good part of the North American nuclear missile silos are in the region.
Collect the wreckage
“The balloon, which was being used by the PRC in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States, was brought down above U.S. territorial waters”, accused the Pentagon.
The US Department of Defense justified the delay in shooting down the balloon due to the risks to people on the ground.
Shortly after the wreckage of the balloon fell into the ocean, US teams began searches to collect equipment with intelligence value.
“We have multiple U.S. Navy vessels and Coast Guard vessels in the region right now, establishing a security perimeter, conducting search for any debris that may be on the water to ensure the safety of U.S. civilians, any maritime activity that is ongoing out in the water,” said a senior defense official.