Watch: Chinese spy balloon shot down over Atlantic after FAA marks Myrtle Beach as temporary flight restricted

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On Saturday, the Federal Aviation Administration placed a temporary flight restriction (TFR) on the area around Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for security purposes. The Chinese spy balloon that has transited from the Aleutians to the East Coast was spotted above Myrtle Beach earlier in the day, and fighter jets had been seen in the area. (Top photo from Fox News.)

Shortly afterward, the balloon, which entered the United States in the Aleutian Islands and crossed nearly the entire country, was shot down and was seen by beachgoers falling from the sky. The balloon is said to be the size of three school buses. The payload was cut loose at about 60,000 and fell into the ocean. Whatever was in that aircraft is now under water.

The temporary flight restriction was unusually wordy and descriptive in what would happen if any aircraft was in the Myrtle Beach air space:

The official account by the Department of Defense:

A U.S. Air Force fighter safely shot down a Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon today, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in a written statement.

President Joe Biden ordered the action on Wednesday, but it was delayed until the balloon was over water off the coast of South Carolina to ensure no Americans on the ground were harmed. 

“The balloon, which was being used by the PRC in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States, was brought down above U.S. territorial waters,” Austin said.  

The action was taken in coordination and support of the Canadian government. “We thank Canada for its contribution to tracking and analysis of the balloon through [North American Aerospace Defense Command] as it transited North America,” Austin said. “Today’s deliberate and lawful action demonstrates that President Biden and his national security team will always put the safety and security of the American people first while responding effectively to the PRC’s unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” Austin said referring to the Peoples Republic of China. 

U.S. officials first detected the balloon and its payload on January 28 when it entered U.S. airspace near the Aleutian Islands. The balloon traversed Alaska, Canada and re-entered U.S. airspace over Idaho. “President Biden asked the military to present options and on Wednesday President Biden gave his authorization to take down the Chinese surveillance balloon as soon as the mission could be accomplished without undue risk to us civilians under the balloon’s path,” said a senior defense official speaking on background. “Military commanders determined that there was undue risk of debris causing harm to civilians while the balloon was overland.” 

An F-22 Raptor fighter from the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, fired one AIM-9X Sidewinder missile at the balloon.  

The balloon fell approximately six miles off the coast in about 47 feet of water. No one was hurt. 

Long before the shoot down, U.S. officials took steps to protect against the balloon’s collection of sensitive information, mitigating its intelligence value to the Chinese. The senior defense official said the recovery of the balloon will enable U.S. analysts to examine sensitive Chinese equipment. “I would also note that while we took all necessary steps to protect against the PRC surveillance balloon’s collection of sensitive information, the surveillance balloon’s overflight of U.S. territory was of intelligence value to us,” the official said. “I can’t go into more detail, but we were able to study and scrutinize the balloon and its equipment, which has been valuable.” 

The balloon did not pose a military or physical threat. Still its intrusion into American airspace over several days was an unacceptable violation of U.S. sovereignty. The official said Chinese balloons briefly transited the continental United States at least three times during the prior administration. 

While Chinese officials admitted that the balloon was theirs, they said it was a runaway weather balloon. “The PRC has claimed publicly that the high-altitude balloon operating above the United States is a weather balloon that was blown off course. This is false,” the official said. “This was a PRC surveillance balloon. This surveillance balloon purposely traversed the United States and Canada, and we are confident it was seeking to monitor sensitive military sites.” 

The mission now transitions to one of recovery. There are a number of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels establishing a security perimeter around the area where the balloon came to Earth. They are searching for debris, said a senior military official also speaking on background.  

There is no estimate for how long the recovery mission will take, the military official said, but the fact that it came down in such a shallow area should make recovery “fairly easy”. 

The military official gave some detail of the engagement. The F-22 fired the Sidewinder at the balloon from an altitude of 58,000 feet. The balloon at the time was between 60,000 and 65,000 feet.  

F-15 Eagles flying from Barnes Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts, supported the F-22, as did tankers from multiple states including Oregon, Montana, South Carolina and North Carolina. Canadian forces also helped track the overflight of the balloon. 

The Navy has deployed the destroyer USS Oscar Austin, the cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the USS Carter Hall, an amphibious landing ship in support of the effort. 

39 COMMENTS

  1. Stu Cvrk’s Expert Analysis and Commentary:

    ‘https://stuinsd.substack.com/p/balloon-antics?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email

  2. Why have military bases in Alaska if nothing was done? Maybe Biden can just give China the keys to the country! What are our Washington reps doing for us? Murkowski, Peltola, Sullivan? C’mon! LAME!

    • Exactly, Brandon, Hunter, and McConnell made sure their Communist Business Partners’ (CCP) got all the information first…

  3. Mission accomplished! After traversing the continental USA and sending all the pertinent data gathered back to China, senile Beijing Biden finally takes action and shoots down the Communist China spy balloon. A day late and a dollar short – just like his joke of a presidency!

  4. I doubt that a mere weather balloon would be rigged or programmed to jettison its payload in case of being shot down or disabled. That action right there should raise alarm bells about the REAL purpose, or purposes, that the Chinese launched this balloon.

  5. Hmmm… What if the payload on the balloon was dispersing ‘something’ the whole trek across the country? You know, without a doubt, that will be kept from us. I don’t trust the CCP 1 mm–and our govt, not much more…

  6. Brilliant! Wait until it falls into salt water so it destroys anything you might otherwise recover from the electronics onboard after drifting over wide open spaces in Montana and Kansas. Way to go Brandon!

  7. Finally.

    I saw one story which said Biden told the military to shoot it down Wednesday.

    If true, this continues a troubling trend by current Pentagon/Joint Chiefs leadership of ignoring the wishes of the Commander in Chief. Milley in particular seems to have a problem in this area.

  8. Bloomberg says Biden knew as early as Jan. 28 and chose to say nothing.
    Only admitted it once it couldn’t be denied anymore.

  9. A perfect scan of infrastructure:
    Dams
    Bases
    Rail yards
    Interstate highway system
    Ports
    We have been infiltrated!

  10. Well, they don’t call him China Joe for nothing…God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and heal our nation.

  11. Meanwhile, 50,000 more illegal aliens walked into the country while everyone was paying attention to American airspace

  12. What a joke. I’m tired of the psyop games.
    They could and should of done this before it even got close to Alaska. They knew its location the whole time.
    Whether it was actually a Chinese balloon or one of ours, I’m just hoping they didn’t spray us with anymore of their chemicals and cr@p.

  13. So 8 days earlier, our President & I am assuming our Governor knew of this invasion of our sovereign airspace & didn’t take immediate action ! Is this classified wilful misconduct? I my eyes it is ! What happens next time it’s a dirty boom on board, hidden inside the balloon ! What information did our communist enemy get flying over our military bases ? This lack of accountability will take this country to it’s knees ! Mark my words! If asked of any true Patriot in our armed forces what they would have done I BET you all know the answer! Shoot it down at first sight!

  14. Continued non story. Games without frontiers. If CCP spying is really a concern maybe not ever tik tok to begin with? Or send our industrial base there? I could go on and on… But it is not the current thing, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  15. This is just terrible. This thing could have been carrying viles of viruses, an EMP bomb, or a myriad of other things. They just let is sail overhead and gave us a word soup for an explanation. They then patted themselves on the back for their great work (safely at the bottom of the ocean).

  16. Balloon
    Chi-Na balloon up in the air
    The USA protests, how unfair
    Over the country it will go
    Gathering data to and fro
    We have what we need; your country laid bare

  17. The CCP playbook is very similar to the Japanese prior and during WW2. The Japanese wiped out millions of Chinese people with biological agents. During WW2, the Japanese used low tech balloons to infiltrate US airspace very successfully in order to create damage to western states. It was kept secret from the public at the time, and only recently has been disclosed. The balloons back then had limited range and trajectory. We should be very concerned.

    • Matt, whataboutism ….. you are overstating what happened during Trump administration. Nothing of this sort ever happened that can be proven.

      Even Leon Panetta, who was Obama’s defense secretary, says that the current resident of the White House should have acted sooner to shoot it down, and should have been more forthcoming with the public rather than just allowing the spy airship to transit the country. Don’t be a dope.

    • For some perspective, the Trump Administration also oversaw a thriving economy with low inflation. Why can’t Biden be 1/3 the president that Trump was in those regards?

      • You do realize that Trump’s economy failed during pandemic and the free money to keep businesses open has resulted in high inflation, mainly due to high oil prices.
        Pretty funny you would want the grifter back in charge. Heheh!

        • Bill,
          Look to history to see what happens during pandemics, it’s not a surprise that the economy took a massive hit. The fact is that the economy was coming back just as massively before Biden took the reigns. Then inflation hit after Biden kept spending and spending and spending. Oh yeah and high oil prices, that’s not hard to guess why…Keystone ring a bell? Shutting down already approved permits ring a bell? Prices were rising well before Russia invaded Ukraine, so there’s no reason to go down that road.
          How is it that you have this strange ability to read things that aren’t there? Where did I say I wanted the grifter back in charge? The last grifter was way better for America than the current grifter, but that ain’t saying much because the current one is such a disaster.

    • Matt – national intelligence agencies say that never happened during Trump’s administration. If you want to play with the adults you need to find better sources than CNN, MSNBC, NPR, BBC, ad nauseum.

      • I got this information from The Hill and Bloomberg News. It seems all you guys can do is deny it. Biden derangement syndrome in full effect.

        • Now the reports claim that the military didn’t have the ability to track balloons during the Trump Administration but when Biden took office he magically made it so they could, but they also magically made it so they could backtrack balloon flights and so it happened before the Biden Administration but they couldn’t tell us until now…

          If you believe that then I have some oceanfront property for sale in Tok.

  18. The evolution of the GOP narrative last week (Thanks RH):

    1. Biden should shoot down the balloon to signal our strength to China; [Before the balloon was shot down.]
    2. Shooting down the balloon was a sign of weakness; [After balloon was shot down over Atlantic.]
    3. Biden should have shot down the balloon sooner;
    4. Biden shot down the balloon only because Montanans observed it over their state;
    5. Biden shot down the balloon because he knew it would make the news;
    6. Biden should have addressed the American people about the balloon; [Before Biden did so.]
    7. Biden should have addressed the American people sooner than he did; [After Biden made a public statement on the balloon.]
    8. China never sent balloons over the US when Trump was president;
    9. Trump didn’t know that China sent three spy balloons into the US when Trump was president; and
    10. The Department of Defense’s claim that China sent three balloons into the US during Trump’s tenure is “fake news.”

    It would be hilariously funny, were it not so depressingly sad.

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