US shoots down Chinese ‘spy balloon’ off Carolina coast

US News

The US has shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon that has been flying over its airspace.

Television footage showed a small explosion, followed by the balloon descending toward the water off the Carolina coast.

The balloon was shot down by an Air Force fighter aircraft.

Ships had also been deployed in the water to mount the recovery operation.

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The movement of Chinese ‘spy’ balloon

President Joe Biden said national security leaders decided the best time for the operation was when the balloon got over water.

“They successfully took it down and I want to complement our aviators who did it,” Mr Biden said.

,Mr Biden had warned the US was “going to take care of” the craft after it was spotted again on Saturday – this time over North Carolina.

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Biden comments on Chinese ‘spy balloon’

The US had previously hesitated to shoot the balloon because of the risks to people on the ground from falling debris.

Ahead of the operation, flights were hailted at three airports including Myrtle Beach International Airport in South Carolina because of a “national security effort”, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said.

Read more:
What are ‘spy balloons’ and what is their role?
The puzzling theories behind China’s ‘spy balloon’

The discovery of the balloon has stirred tensions and a diplomatic row between China and the US.

The US claims the craft is a suspected spy balloon and says it has committed a “clear violation” of its sovereignty.

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Moment pilots spot Chinese spy balloon

China insisted it is used for meteorological and other scientific research, and had been blown off course.

The object is believed to have flown over the Aleutian Islands, off the coast of Alaska, and through Canada before entering the US earlier this week.

It is operating at 60,000ft and is manoeuvrable, the Pentagon has said.

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