Sensors from the first Chinese reconnaissance balloon believed to have been shot down over the United States have been recovered from the Atlantic Ocean, the US military said. The search party found “significant debris from the site, including all of the priority sensor and electronics pieces identified”, U.S. Northern Command said. The FBI is investigating items the US says were used to spy on sensitive military sites. The US has shot down three more objects since the first attack on February 4th.
US officials said the high-altitude balloon originated in China and was used for surveillance, but China said it was merely a weather-monitoring airship that had blown astray. Since that first incident, American fighter jets have shot down three more high-altitude objects – over Alaska, Canada’s Yukon territory, and Lake Huron on the US-Canada border. In the Lake Huron strike, the first Sidewinder missile fired by the US F-16 warplane missed its target and exploded in an unknown location, US media reported, citing military sources.
Officials said the slow-moving, unidentified objects were all smaller than the original balloon and could be difficult for military pilots to attack. White House spokesman John Kirby said Monday that the three other objects were shot down with caution. They did not pose “any direct threat to people on the ground”, but were destroyed “to protect our security, our interests, and flight safety”, he said. A balloon launched over South Carolina was described by officials as the size of three buses.