US military finishes recovering Chinese balloon debris

Analysis of debris reinforces conclusions that it was a Chinese spy balloon, US officials say

By AP

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A fighter jet flies near a large balloon drifting above the Atlantic Ocean, just off the coast of South Carolina near Myrtle Beach, on February 4, 2023.— AP FILE
A fighter jet flies near a large balloon drifting above the Atlantic Ocean, just off the coast of South Carolina near Myrtle Beach, on February 4, 2023.— AP FILE

Published: Fri 17 Feb 2023, 8:53 PM

The US has finished efforts to recover the remnants of the large balloon that was shot down off the coast of South Carolina, and analysis of the debris so far reinforces conclusions that it was a Chinese spy balloon, US officials said on Friday.

Officials said the US believes that Navy, Coast Guard and FBI personnel collected all of the balloon debris off the ocean floor. US Northern Command said in a statement that the recovery operations ended on Thursday and that final pieces are on their way to the FBI lab in Virginia for analysis. It said air and maritime restrictions off South Carolina have been lifted.

The announcement capped three dramatic weeks that saw US fighter jets shoot down four airborne objects — the large China balloon and three much smaller objects over Canada, Alaska and Lake Huron — the first known peacetime shootdowns of unauthorised objects in US airspace.

The officials also said the search for the small airborne object that was shot down over Lake Huron has stopped, and nothing has been recovered. US officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military operations.


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