The controversial Chinese balloon that traversed the United States has been shot down.
A live feed on YouTube covered the balloon’s plummet from 60,000 feet. The shoot occurred over the Atlantic Ocean just east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and reports indicate that efforts are being made to recover it for study.
A full air ground-stop was in effect in the area until 3:30 pm. ET to facilitate the balloon takedown.
Political and public pressure to down the balloon mounted in the last few days, with one Congressman calling for an investigation as to why it was allowed to continue on its path. The administration line was that debris from any shoot would potentially cause damage.
But President Biden said today to reporters, “We’ll take care of it.” A few hours later, the balloon was shot down.
The high-altitude Chinese balloon drew severe Pentagon accusations of spying on sensitive military sites, despite China’s denials. China’s foreign ministry has claimed it is a civilian balloon used for meteorological purposes that was blown off-course.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken abruptly canceled a high-stakes Beijing trip aimed at easing U.S.-China tensions.
The balloon was first spotted over Montana, which is home to one of America’s three nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base, defense officials said.
A second balloon was spotted over Latin America.
AF1 landed at Hagerstown Regional Airport at 3:06 PM. Biden stepped off at 3:15 PM and spoke to reporters.
“On Wednesday, when I was briefed on the balloon, I ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down on Wednesday as soon as possible,” said Biden.
He said they didn’t want to do damage to anyone on the ground. “They decided that the best time to do that was when it got over water [inaudible] within 12 mile limit.”
“They successfully took it down and I want to compliment our aviators that did it,” Biden said.
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