By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 05, Feb 2023, 8:59 am IST | UPDATED: 05, Feb 2023, 8:59 am IST
New Delhi: A US military fighter jet on Saturday (February 4, 2023) shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina, a week after it entered American airspace and triggered a dramatic spying saga that worsened US-Sino tensions.
"They successfully took it down, and I want to compliment our aviators who did it," US President Joe Biden said.
Biden said that he had issued an order on Wednesday to take down the balloon, but the Pentagon had recommended waiting until it could be done over open water to safeguard civilians from debris crashing to Earth from thousands of feet (meters) above commercial air traffic.
The balloon, which was estimated to be about the size of three school buses, was shot down about six nautical miles off the US coast, over relatively shallow water, potentially aiding efforts to recover elements of the Chinese surveillance equipment in the coming days, officials said.
The shootdown came shortly after the Biden administration ordered a halt to flights in and out of three regional airports -- Wilmington, Myrtle Beach and Charleston -- due to what it said at the time was an undisclosed "national security effort."
It is noteworthy that the before moving into Canadian airspace on January 30. It then re-entered US airspace over northern Idaho on January 31 and once it crossed over US land, it did not return to the open waters, making a shootdown difficult.
Earlier this week, China expressed regret that an "airship" used for civilian meteorological and other scientific purposes had strayed into US airspace.
China's foreign ministry said on Saturday that the and accused US politicians and media of taking advantage of the situation to discredit Beijing.