The alleged Chinese spy balloon was shot down by an American fighter jet off the coast of South Carolina on February 4. The U.S. military announced on Monday that it had retrieved essential equipment from the balloon, including important sensors likely used for intelligence collection.
The U.S. military’s Northern Command stated in a statement that “crews have been able to remove significant debris from the site, including all of the priority sensor and electronics pieces identified as well as large chunks of the building.”
Before President Joe Biden ordered its destruction, the Chinese balloon had been flying over the United States and Canada for a week. Beijing disputes that it was a government espionage vessel. The incident soured relations between Washington and Beijing and forced the United States’ top ambassador to cancel a trip to China.
Additionally, it prompted the U.S. military to search the sky for other targets that were not being picked up by radar, which resulted in an unprecedented three shootdowns between Friday and Sunday.
The U.S. military and the Biden administration have admitted that there are still many unanswered questions regarding the most recent unmanned objects, including how they maintain their altitude, who manufactured them, and whether or not they may have been used for intelligence gathering.
On Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin tried to reassure people about the dangers posed by the unidentified flying objects.
Austin told reporters as he touched down in Brussels for a NATO meeting, “I want to reassure Americans that these objects do not offer a military threat to anyone on the ground.
“They do, however, pose a threat to intelligence gathering and a risk to civil aviation.”
Given their smaller size and lack of a conventional radar signature, the newer items have proven more challenging to target than the Chinese surveillance balloon, according to the U.S. military.
A U.S. official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity, that the latest shootdown of an unidentified object by an F-16 fighter jet on Sunday required two sidewinder missiles because one of them had failed to bring the target down.
Austin claimed that none of the three most recent targets shot down, one of which landed in ice and snow off the coast of Alaska, have had any wreckage recovered by the American military. Over the Canadian territory of Yukon, there was yet another shootdown.
However, without going into any detail, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated on Monday that there was some connection between the four airborne objects that were shot down recently.
Trudeau told reporters at a news conference in Whitehorse, the capital of Yukon, that “obviously there is some sort of pattern in there, and the fact we are seeing this at a substantial degree over the past week is a cause for interest and close attention.”