US Navy Recovers Downed Chinese Spy Balloon

The United States Navy has recovered the suspected Chinese spy balloon, or at least most of it, in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. 

Photos released by the Navy show the explosive disposal team pulling what remains of the deflated balloon onto a boat on Sunday. The recovered debris will stay in an FBI laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, where US authorities will analyze its capabilities.

The balloon was tracked floating over the continental US for days before it appeared over Montana. President Joe Biden reportedly ordered the US military to shoot it down as soon as it was safe and it did not pose any danger to people or property on the ground. US fighter jets shot it down on Saturday afternoon when it was floating over the ocean.

READ: Balloon Popped! Chinese Spy Balloon Plummets after Being Hit by US Fighter Jet

Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of US Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), told reporters on Monday that the balloon was around 200 feet tall and was carrying a payload that weighed more than a ton. The debris field in the Atlantic Ocean was about 1,500 square meters.

“Glass off of solar panels, potentially hazardous material, such as material that is required for batteries to operate in such an environment as this and even the potential for explosives to detonate and destroy the balloon that could have been present,” VanHerck said describing the debris.

Via Petty Officer 1st Class Tyler Thompson/US Navy

VanHerck also added that because it was detected early enough, they were able to gather intelligence on the suspected spy balloon while it was floating over the US.

“This gave us the opportunity to assess what they were actually doing, what kind of capabilities existed on the balloon, what kind of transmission capabilities existed, and I think you’ll see in the future that that time frame was well worth its value to collect over,” he said.

China has expressed disappointment over the US’s decision to shoot down what it maintains was a weather balloon.

READ: China Reacts to Balloon Pop, Expresses “Solemn Protest”

“The US used force to attack our civilian unmanned airship, which is an obvious overreaction,” Tan Kefei, a spokesperson for the Chinese Defense Ministry, said on Sunday.

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