There has been growing anxiety that it could take days for an American salvage vessel to reach the Chinese spy balloon in the air, but the government of President Joe Biden has seemed casual about the situation.
A balloon bearing Chinese surveillance equipment was shot down near the coast of South Carolina on Saturday after a journey that began in the Pacific Ocean and included Canada, Alaska, and much of the continental United States.
The balloon, which the People’s Republic of China had employed to try to spy on critical facilities in the continental United States, was reportedly brought down over American territory, according to the Pentagon.
The military reportedly spent days plotting to take out the balloon above water, but their efforts appeared to have been in vain. Instead, they sent navy warships to form a perimeter around the debris in an apparent attempt to prevent the Chinese from rescuing it themselves.
The United States Air Force F-22 Raptor shot down the balloon, roughly the size of three school buses, and three warships were sent to surround the crash site, according to a Navy official quoted by the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI).
Ships from the United States Navy, including the guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG-79), the amphibious assault ship USS Carter Hall (LSD-50), and the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG-58), as well as numerous Coast Guard vessels, have arrived to monitor the area until a Navy salvage ship, which is expected to arrive in two days.
A senior military official stated that the Navy has competent divers available to retrieve and load the structure onto a crewless rescue ship. The FBI’s counterintelligence division will also classify and evaluate the platform.
A senior defense official stated they could collect intelligence about the surveillance equipment as it flew over the United States and protect the American people from being surveilled. At the same time, the Navy works to recover what it can from the wreckage of the spy balloon – the timeline for which has yet to be reported.
The official said that he would note the intelligence value of the PRC surveillance balloon’s overflight of U.S. land, despite the fact that all precautions were taken to prevent sensitive material from being gathered by the balloon. He also said that while he could not disclose specifics, it was helpful that the balloon and its components were subject to extensive examination.
The Defense Department was forthright in its assessment that the balloon posed no military or physical threat. That report was directed at former President Donald Trump, who had criticized Biden for his slow response. Yet, it was still a serious breach of U.S. sovereignty for it to enter American airspace for several days.
According to the official, Chinese balloons briefly transited the United States’ continental airspace at least three times during the previous administration, a claim that Trump denied.