Boom. And the Chinese spy balloon, of the size of three buses, that had strayed into the US airspace was shot down with a single missile, showed a video. The Pentagon said on Friday that it had surveillance capabilities.
“We successfully took it down, and I want to compliment our aviators who did it,” President Joe Biden said.
A Reuters photographer who witnessed the shootdown said a stream came from a jet and hit the balloon, but there was no explosion. It then began to fall, the photographer said.
An F-22 fighter jet took the shot at 2:39 p.m. (1939 GMT), using a single AIM-9X supersonic, heat-seeking, air-to-air missile, a senior US military official said.
Incredible HD footage of the Chinese surveillance balloon being shot down. pic.twitter.com/K1GxdcJuH1
— Graham Allen (@GrahamAllen_1) February 4, 2023
NDTV cannot independently verify the authenticity of the video.
The balloon first entered US airspace on January 28 before moving into Canadian airspace on Monday. It then re-entered US airspace on January 31, a US defense official said.
Washington has called it a “clear violation” of US sovereignty and notified Beijing about the shootdown on Saturday, a US official said.
China had expressed regret that an “airship” used for civilian meteorological and other scientific purposes had strayed into US airspace.
But the Pentagon assesses that the balloon was just the latest in a string of Chinese spy balloon activity spanning the globe. On Friday, it said another Chinese balloon was currently flying over Latin America.