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US shoots down suspected Chinese surveillance airship over Atlantic



The US Department of Defence has confirmed shooting down a giant Chinese balloon that has been spying on key military sites across America.

In a statement on Saturday, the Department said US fighter jets brought down the balloon over its territorial waters.

“An F-22 jet fighter engaged the high-altitude balloon with one missile – an AIM-9X Sidewinder – and it went down about six nautical miles off the US coast at 14:39 EST (19:39 GMT),” defence official told reporters.

“The debris landed in 47ft (14m) of water, shallower than they had expected, near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

“The military is now trying to recover debris which is spread over seven miles (11km). Two naval ships, including one with a heavy crane for recovery, are in the area,” a Pentagon statement said, quoting a senior US defence official.

READ ALSO:Another Chinese spy balloon seen flying over Latin America, Pentagon reports

“While we took all necessary steps to protect against the PRC (China) surveillance balloon’s collection of sensitive information, the surveillance balloon’s overflight of US territory was of intelligence value to us.

“We were able to study and scrutinise the balloon and its equipment, which has been valuable,” the official added.

President Joe Biden had been under pressure to shoot down the Chinese surveillance balloon after it was spotted in US airspace on Thursday.

But after holding a series of meetings with defence official, Biden finally gave his approval for the balloons to be brought down.

“They successfully took it down, and I want to compliment our aviators who did it,” the President said afterwards.

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