The US military on Monday said it had recovered a priority sensor from the suspected Chinese spy balloon after being shot down by a fighter jet off South Carolina’s coast. The search crews discovered “significant debris from the site, including all of the priority sensor and electronics pieces identified”, said US Northern Command, according to the BBC report.”Large sections of the structure” were also recovered on off the coast of South Carolina, the report quoted military officials as saying. About 30-40ft (9-12m) of the balloon’s antenna array are among the items found, according to CBS, the BBC’s US partner.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating the items, which the US claimed were used to spy on sensitive military sites. The US has targeted three more objects since February 4 when the first spy balloon was shot down. The high-altitude balloon used for surveillance originated in China, the US claimed. However, China refuted the claims as merely a weather-monitoring airship that had gone astray.
Which spy balloons were shot down?
Since the first incident, US fighter jets have brought down three more high-altitude objects over Alaska, Canada’s Yukon territory, and Lake Huron on the US-Canada border. The first Sidewinder missile fired by the US F-22 warplane in Lake Huron ended up exploding in an unknown location after missing the target, the report cited US media reported quoting military sources. The second missile hit the target, according to reports.
Each Sidewinder missile costs over $400,000 (£330,000), the report added. The balloon shot down over South Carolina is said to be the size of three buses, according to the officials.
The second object, over Alaska, has been described as the size of a ‘small car’ while the third object, over the Yukon, is said to be ‘cylindrical’. The fourth object over Michigan was said to be “octagonal” with strings attached. Officials have said the slow-moving unidentified objects, all of which have been smaller than the original balloon, may be difficult for military pilots to target.
White House spokesman John Kirby said on Monday the three other objects were shot down “out of an abundance of 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.