The skies above America are not as safe as we thought. On Saturday, the U.S. shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon off the Carolina coast, after it had been flying across the country for a week. This incident has raised alarm bells for many, as it is a clear violation of our sovereignty and international law.
The balloon was estimated to be the size of three school buses and was traveling at about 60,000 feet. It was first spotted hovering over Montana on Wednesday and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) paused flights from three airports in North Carolina and South Carolina and closed additional airspace on Saturday afternoon as part of a “national security effort” with the Defense Department.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry claimed that the balloon was a civilian airship used primarily for meteorological research and that it had deviated far from its planned course due to the Westerlies. However, the U.S. has refused to accept this explanation, alleging that it was attempting to surveil “strategic sites” within the U.S.
At the direction of President Biden, U.S. fighter aircraft assigned to U.S. Northern Command successfully brought down the balloon. An operation is reportedly underway to recover debris from the downed balloon. The incident has further strained the already tense relationship between Beijing and Washington, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponing a trip to Beijing on Friday.
It is clear that this incident is a cause for concern for all Americans. We must remain vigilant and ensure that our airspace is secure and our sovereignty respected.