US military recovers crucial sensors from Chinese spy balloon


Washington DC
The suspected Chinese spy balloon drifts to the ocean after being shot down off the coast in Surfside Beach, South Carolina, U.S. February 4, 2023. REUTERS/Randall Hill

The U.S. military announced on Monday that it had recovered vital intelligence-gathering instruments from the alleged Chinese spy balloon shot down by a U.S. fighter jet off the coast of South Carolina on February 4.

The U.S. military's Northern Command issued the following statement: "Crews have been able to recover significant debris from the site, including all of the priority sensor and electronics pieces identified as well as large sections of the structure."

The Chinese balloon, which Beijing denies was a government espionage craft, flew over the United States and Canada for a week before President Joe Biden ordered its destruction. The incident strained relations between Washington and Beijing, prompting the United States' top ambassador to delay a trip to China.

It also prompted the U.S. military to search the sky for further objects that were not being detected by radar, resulting in an unprecedented three shootdowns between Friday and Sunday.

The U.S. military and the Biden administration have recognized that much remains unknown about the most recent unmanned devices, including how they stay aloft, who constructed them, and whether or not they may have been collecting intelligence.

Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin attempted to reassure Americans about the dangers posed by unidentified flying objects.

"I want to reassure Americans that these objects do not present a military threat to anyone on the ground," Austin told reporters as he arrived in Brussels for a NATO meeting.

However, they pose a threat to civil aviation and potentially to intelligence collecting.

Due to their smaller size and absence of a traditional radar signature, the U.S. military reports that targeting the latest items has been more challenging than bringing down the Chinese surveillance balloon.

A U.S. official said that the most recent shootdown of an unidentified object by an F-16 fighter jet on Sunday required two sidewinder missiles after one failed to hit the target.

Austin stated that the U.S. military has not yet collected any wreckage from the three most recent downed items, one of which crashed in ice and snow off the coast of Alaska. Another aircraft was shot down over the Yukon area in Canada.

U.S. officials have declined to establish a connection between the occurrences.

However, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated on Monday that the four airborne objects shot down over the past few days were connected somehow, without providing specifics.

During a news conference in Whitehorse, Yukon's capital, Trudeau told reporters, "Obviously there is some sort of pattern in there; the fact we are seeing this in a significant degree over the past week is a cause for interest and close attention,"

Publish : 2023-02-14 09:48:00

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