The US Air Force shot down a Chinese spy balloon. China is outraged

The F-22 fighter jet using an AIM-9X air-to-air missile destroyed Chinese spy balloon off the coast of Southern California, reported Reuters citing US officials.

The high-altitude balloon was shot down about 11 km off the US coast in the Atlantic Ocean over relatively shallow water (up to 14 m deep). Debris is scattered over an area of 11 square km. Several US warships are at the crash site, hoping to collect the debris and recover Chinese intelligence equipment.

We remind that a high-altitude balloon with probably surveillance equipment entered the US airspace over Alaska on January 28, 2023. On January 30, it ended up over Canada and returned to the US control zone on January 31, 2023 over Idaho. But the military advised President Biden agains the immediate destruction of the balloon and waited until it crossed the entire territory of the United States and ended up over the waters of the Atlantic, where falling debris does not threaten people on the ground. During the flight of the balloon over almost the entire territory of the United States, it passed over several secret facilities.

China has strongly condemned the military strike on a “civilian balloon”, which Chinese officials say was used for meteorological and other scientific purposes and entered US airspace “completely by accident”. Ironically, at the height of the Cold War, the USSR, the US, and China used this very waiver to justify their intelligence missions.

“China had clearly asked the U.S. to handle this properly in a calm, professional and restrained manner,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement. “The U.S. had insisted on using force, obviously overreacting.”

The “balloon crisis” has already caused another deterioration in Sino-American relations. The planned visit of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to Beijing has been postponed indefinitely.

In fact, this is not the first Chinese high-altitude balloon to be noticed in different corners of the globe. The military department believes that this balloon was part of a fleet of Chinese spy balloons. A few days ago, another Chinese balloon was discovered over Latin America.

“Over the past several years, Chinese balloons have previously been spotted over countries across five continents, including in East Asia, South Asia and Europe,” the Pentagon said.

The Drive writes that the high-altitude balloon was probably the first real aerial target destroyed by the F-22.

Interestingly, the planes, and there were two F-22 fighters in the air, used the callsigns FRANK01 and FRANK02, as a tribute to World War I ace Frank Luke, Jr., who shot down 4 German planes and 14 (!) balloons.