China’s extensive surveillance capabilities were on display through the last week as the communist regime sent a spy balloon over the entire span of the United States. Joe Biden said over the weekend that he ordered the Department of Defense (DOD) to exercise all military options to end the threat posed by the balloon. However, DOD officials refrained from taking any action to bring down the balloon over land because of concerns about the potential harm to civilians from falling debris.
A senior military official and senior defense official claimed Saturday that the DOD was able to study China’s spying technology while observing the balloon as it passed over the continental U.S. Through various means, the DOD learned technical information about the balloon and its broad surveillance capabilities, which could provide valuable intelligence for the country.
Trying to save his behind Biden says he authorized Pentagon days ago to shoot down Chinese spy balloon. There was plenty of wide open spaces to shoot it down crossing the country but he waited. https://t.co/iLsa59XXRo
— Jasmine Maxwell 🤗🌹💚🤍💞 (@BootsieJazz) February 4, 2023
The official added that the Navy and Coast Guard were already recovering debris from the balloon but could not provide an exact timeline for how long the recovery action would take.
He added: “We don’t know exactly all the benefits that will derive, but we have learned technical things about this balloon and its surveillance capabilities.”
Despite the balloon’s broad surveillance capabilities, the military determined that it did not pose an immediate threat to Americans. As a result, an F-22 fighter jet was deployed to bring down the balloon in an effective way that would not pose a threat to American safety.
The balloon was successfully shot down with an AIM-9X Sidewinder missile as it passed six nautical miles off the coast of South Carolina but still within U.S. airspace. The debris field from the balloon is expected to cover at least seven miles.
This is not the first time China has deployed similar balloons in the U.S., with three previous incidents recorded during President Donald Trump’s first term and once at the beginning of the Biden administration. However, this incident is the most extended recorded deployment of a Chinese spy balloon in the U.S.
The Pentagon has identified at least one surveillance balloon currently transiting Latin America. The official stated that these balloons are part of a fleet developed by China to conduct global surveillance operations, with sightings reported in countries across five continents in recent years.