U.S. Shoots Down Chinese Spy Balloon

The balloon and its payload were first noticed on the 28th of January when the balloon entered U.S. airspace. China said that the balloon is a commercial weather balloon that accidentally drifted over. However, it is believed that the weather balloon could potentially be a spy balloon that was used to monitor U.S. assets and possibly Canadian assets since it also crossed into Canada. Unfortunately, government officials believed that when the balloon gets over U.S. land that it will cause additional harm to civilians on the ground because it is uncertain what is on the payload upon further inspection after recovery. The payload could be carrying an imagery payload used to spy on U.S. military, weapons, or many other threats to the U.S.

To take down the so called weather balloon the U.S. deployed a F-22 Raptor and fired one AIM-9X Sidewinder missile at the balloon. The balloon landed in about 47 feet deep waters about six miles from the coast, and there were no impacts.

The U.S. government did take actions in protecting itself from the balloons capability in collecting sensitive information and mitigating its availability to the Chinese. After recovering what is left of the balloon, they will be able to get more information into the balloon and their surveillance capability. Being able to study from the resources of what remains of the balloon gives valuable information to the U.S.

For the few days that the balloon was over U.S. airspace it did not have any military or physical threat it was still unacceptable because of its violation of U.S. sovereignty. China admitted that the weather  balloon was theirs but because of its altitude China said that it was blown off its planned course. However, U.S. officials quickly ruled that out because of the numerous times the balloon crossed U.S. and Canadian airspace which they were confident that it was used to monitor sensitive military sites.

Source: https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Stories/Article/Article/3288543/f-22-safely-shoots-down-chinese-spy-balloon-off-south-carolina-coast/