- Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, "This afternoon, at the direction of President Biden
- US fighter aircraft assigned to US Northern Command successfully brought down the People's Republic of China's high altitude surveillance balloon over the water off the coast of South Carolina in US airspace.
Even though the Biden administration tried to stop it, a Chinese spy balloon that flew over the US was able to gather information from sensitive American military sites and send it back to Beijing in real time, a media report said on Monday.
In late January, a Chinese spy balloon that was thought to be the size of three buses was seen over the United States.
China was able to control the balloon so that it could fly over some of the sites more than once (sometimes in a figure-eight shape) and send the information it gathered back to Beijing in real time, three unnamed officials told NBC News.
Officials were quoted in the report as saying that most of the information China got was from electronic signals, not images. These signals can come from weapons systems or communications from base staff.
The three officials said that China could have gotten a lot more information from sensitive sites if the Biden administration hadn’t tried to move around possible targets and make it harder for the balloon to pick up their electronic signals by stopping them from sending signals, the report said.
The Biden administration says that the balloon first flew into US airspace on January 28 from Alaska.
Over the next four days, it flew over Montana’s Malmstrom Air Force Base, where some of the US’s nuclear weapons are kept.
The situation made the already tense relations between the US and China even worse. In February of this year, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken abruptly canceled a very important trip to Beijing.
The US National Security Council told NBC News to get a comment from the Defense Department.
In its response, Beijing said the balloon was a “civilian airship” from China that had gone off course.
“China made the airship. It is a civilian airship that is used for research, mostly in the field of meteorology “In a statement that was put on the website of the Chinese foreign ministry, a spokesperson for the ministry said this.
The US shot down the balloon on February 4, just off the coast of South Carolina.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, “This afternoon, at the direction of President Biden, US fighter aircraft assigned to US Northern Command successfully brought down the People’s Republic of China’s high altitude surveillance balloon over the water off the coast of South Carolina in US airspace.” The balloon was launched by and belonged to the People’s Republic of China.