US Recovers Shot-Down Chinese balloon, Now Analysing Its ‘Guts’
Washington: US Successfully Recovers Suspected Chinese Spy Balloon Debris, Sending it to FBI Laboratory for Analysis
The United States military announced on Friday that it has successfully concluded recovery efforts off South Carolina to collect sensors and other debris from a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that was shot down by a US fighter jet on February 4. The US military’s Northern Command stated that the search for two of three other objects shot down in the aftermath has also ended. The last of the debris from the Chinese balloon, which was downed by a Sidewinder missile, is heading to an FBI laboratory in Virginia for analysis.
According to National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, the US has already learned a lot about the balloon by observing it as it flew over the United States. “We’re going to learn even more, we believe, by getting a look at the guts inside it and seeing how it worked and what it was capable of,” he told a White House news briefing.
The US military has said it believes it has collected all of the Chinese balloon’s priority sensors and electronics as well as large sections of its structure, elements that could help counterintelligence officials determine how Beijing may have been collecting and transmitting surveillance information.
The Chinese balloon, which Beijing denies was a government spy vessel, spent a week flying over the United States and Canada before being shot down off the Atlantic Coast on orders from President Joe Biden. The incident caused an uproar in Washington and led the US military to search the skies for other objects that were not being captured on radar. The military’s Northern Command carried out an unprecedented three shootdowns of unidentified “objects” between last Friday and Sunday.
The Chinese balloon incident prompted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone a planned visit earlier this month to Beijing and has further strained already frayed ties between Washington and Beijing. US Vice President Kamala Harris defended the administration’s handling of the balloon incident and the shooting down of the three other objects, stating that the Chinese balloon “needed to be shot down because we were confident that it was used by China to spy on American people.”
The recovery of the suspected Chinese spy balloon debris marks a significant milestone in the US investigation of the incident. The analysis of the recovered materials will likely provide further insight into China’s surveillance capabilities and tactics, and could have implications for US-China relations going forward.