Chinese High-Altitude Balloon Shot Down Over the Atlantic Ocean Near Surfside Beach, South Carolina


VIDEO: Chinese spy balloon shot down in view from Cherry Grove, South Carolina
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The United States Air Force at 2:39 P.M. ET shot down a suspected China spy balloon that crossed the United States Thursday, Friday and Saturday. One shot was fired from an F-22 Raptor. The fallen debris of the balloon is located in about 47 feet of water of the Atlantic Ocean near the coast of North Carolina and South Carolina. The US Navy is sending a salvage vessel to recover the suspected Chinese spy balloon.

A senior military official said on Saturday, February 4, 2023 that the Chinese spy balloon was shot down by one air-to-air A9X sidewinder missile fired by an F-22 Raptor that took off from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. The A9X sidewinder missile is almost 10 feet long. According to Raytheon, the AIM-9X SIDEWINDER has a variant known as the AIM-9X Block II that has lock-on-after-launch capability using a new weapon datalink to support engagement with a target beyond visual range.

The aircraft fired the missile while flying at an altitude of 58,000 feet with the the balloon hovering at an altitude of 60,000 to 65,000 feet. The surveillance gear hanging from the ballon is reported to have been the size of three buses.

An F-22 Raptor on a routine training mission deployed out of the 27th Firhgter Squadron at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia (SOURCE Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway)
An F-22 Raptor on a routine training mission deployed out of the 27th Firhgter Squadron at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia (SOURCE Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway).

The best early video available was posted on Instagram and Facebook by John Snyder, a photographer who lives in the coastal area of South Carolina.

A Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) was active around the time that the balloon was shot down. NOTAMs indicate the real-time and abnormal status of the National Air Space (NAS) impacting every user. NOTAMs concern the establishment, condition, or change of any facility, service, procedure or hazard in the NAS.

An intelligence-gathering balloon, most certainly launched by the People’s Republic of China, was floating above the United States, the Defense Department announced Thursday evening.

“The United States government has detected and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now,” Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said during an impromptu briefing Thursday evening, February 2, 2023. The U.S. government, including NORAD tracked the balloon and monitored it closely.”

Footage shows the moment the Chinese “spy balloon” was shot down over the Atlantic Ocean, near the coast of Carolina. Video shared by Twitter users @ashlynforsc and @haleyewalsh shows the moment of the impact. YouTube Tips ⓘ

The United States shot down the suspected Chinese spy balloon that was over Montana Thursday night, after it crossed the United States and was over the Atlantic Ocean. YouTube Tips ⓘ

Ryder said the balloon was well above commercial air traffic and didn’t pose a threat to civil aviation. He also said this isn’t the first time such a balloon has been seen over the United States.

After the balloon was detected, Ryder said, the U.S. government “acted immediately” to protect against the collection of sensitive information, though he didn’t detail what measures were taken.

A senior defense official who participated in the briefing on background only said the U.S. intelligence community has “very high confidence” the balloon belongs to the People’s Republic of China, and that the United States has engaged with Chinese officials “with urgency, through multiple channels” regarding the presence of the balloon.

“We have communicated to them the seriousness with which we take this issue,” the official said. “We have made clear we will do whatever is necessary to protect our people and our homeland.”

Initially, following recommendations of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley and Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, commander of U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the U.S. position was to allow the balloon to continue to float above the United States, rather than attempt to shoot it down.

The official said the risk of using kinetic force to take the balloon out of the sky might put civilian communities at risk, and that the threat the balloon poses now to both safety and U.S. intelligence doesn’t justify such an action.

The official said this is not the first time such a balloon has been seen above the United States, but did say this time the balloon appears to be acting differently than what has been seen in the past.

“It’s happened a handful of other times over the past few years, to include before this administration,” the official said. “It is appearing to hang out for a longer period of time, this time around, [and is] more persistent than in previous instances. That would be one distinguishing factor.”

While the senior defense official would not say how large the balloon is, the official did say its size did figure into the calculation to not use kinetic force to take it out of the sky.

“We did assess that it was large enough to cause damage from the debris field if we downed it over an area,” the official said. “I can’t really go into the dimension — but there have been reports of pilots seeing this thing, even though it’s pretty high up in the sky. So … it’s sizable.”

The defense official stated the balloon was seen over Montana as early as Thursday. Global security analysts indicated the United States military was likely aware of the balloon before Thursday, February 2, 2023.



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Rep. Russell Fry, R-SC, reacts to the Chinese spy balloon shot down off the coast of his district and discusses the national security implications surrounding the situation on ‘Fox News Live.’ YouTube Tips ⓘ

Langley Air Force Base was about 265 miles north of the mission’s target.

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