The giant Chinese balloon carrying instruments large enough to load three school buses flew freely over the United States, escorted by US armed troops, and when it approached the east coast on its diagonal journey to the Atlantic, it was viewed by Americans on new and social media.
The balloon was initially observed by the public in Montana when it entered US airspace. The sighting quickly received national media attention. The balloon was eventually shot down just as it passed the South Carolina shore at Myrtle Beach, above US territorial seas – a choice made to avoid hazards to humans on the ground at a probable crash site. Traffic was stopped, and spectators flocked up to the beach on the Carolina coast, which was sealed by the military, while Navy ships waited in nearby seas to rescue the balloon’s falling sections when it was shot down.
Now that those salvaged components have been examined, information about the balloon’s construction and origins is emerging.
According to a person acquainted with the briefing, western-made parts with English-language marking had been retrieved at the accident scene.
📍ATLANTIC OCEAN – @USNavy Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 recover a high-altitude surveillance balloon off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Feb. 5, 2023. pic.twitter.com/QwjSFQEw1b
— U.S. Fleet Forces (@USFleetForces) February 7, 2023
In a statement issued on Thursday, the State Department stated that the balloon’s maker was already recognized as a supplier to the Chinese military. “We are confident that the balloon manufacturer has a direct relationship with China’s military and is an approved vendor of the [People’s Liberation Army,] according to information published in an official procurement portal for the PLA.”
And, according to Western Journal, senior US government sources aren’t ruling out the frightening potential that the balloon’s components have US ties.
According to Fox News, two Republican senators informed reporters that authorities from three separate agencies refused to rule out the potential that the aircraft was built with the assistance of American corporations. Senators Josh Hawley and Dan Sullivan said they asked authorities about the possibility at a secret briefing on Thursday, but the briefing staff did not offer a “definitive answer.”
Following the confidential briefing, the two senators talked to reporters and recognized some troubling possibilities. “American companies shouldn’t be helping build spy satellites that are used against their own citizens,” Sullivan added. “Maybe there’s nothing to be said about that, but somebody asked about it, and nobody, nobody in that briefing said, ‘oh, it’s not a problem.” According to Fox, officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the State Department, and the Department of Defense briefed the two senators.
Sullivan is calling for national security officials to make the details of the classified briefing public. “What we were just briefed on there, I think it should just be made public, right. Let the American people know the extent of the challenges,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hawley’s attention was attracted to national security authorities, whom he blamed of incompetence in the balloon’s traverse, according to the Western Journal. “Obviously, the other thing that it made was crystal clear from this briefing was how unprepared, totally unprepared the administration and frankly, the Pentagon was for this to happen,” the Missouri senator said the situation.
The balloon definitely traveled from China over the whole Pacific Ocean to the west coast of the United States, where it was observed by the public in Montana, prompting hundreds of photos and videos to be shared on social media. The issue of how this may have happened remains unanswered. Americans go about their everyday lives certain that any aircraft approaching the United States’ boundaries will be spotted and dealt with, which did not occur in this case. That reality is even more troubling now that the pieces have raised fresh doubts regarding the provenance of the balloon’s fabrication.
Interesting detail in today's State Dept. statement about the Chinese balloon: Some of the US's info about the balloon's origins and uses came from a PLA online portal and from the website of the company that made the balloon pic.twitter.com/S5pe1KDZ1x
— Chris (@chrstphr_woody) February 9, 2023
According to NBC News, the FBI is investigating the wreckage of the spy balloon.
As additional balloons arrive and are dealt with over South America, Alaska, Canada, and Montana today, Beijing has stated that they veered off course and could not be managed, but the Pentagon has contradicted that, according to Conservative Brief.
“The balloon is maneuverable,” Pentagon spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters last week. “It violated the law. We communicated that to China.” He said that shooting down the new balloon over Montana “was taken into consideration” earlier, but “because we assessed that currently, it does not pose a psychical or military risk to people on the ground, for now, we are continuing to monitor and review options.”