The US military announced on Monday that it had recovered key components of a Chinese spy balloon, which a US fighter jet shot down off South Carolina’s coast on February 4th.
According to the US Military, “Crews have been able to recover significant debris from the site, including all of the priority sensor and electronics pieces identified as well as large sections of the structure.” The initial incident led to the military adjusting their radars to detect smaller objects, which the military claims have led to the additional incidents that have occurred over Alaska, Canada, Montana, and Michigan.
While speaking to reporters in Brussels, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin commented on the developments saying, “I want to reassure Americans that these objects do not present a military threat to anyone on the ground.” Secretary Austin did note that while the objects do not pose a military threat to civilians on the ground, they could pose a risk to civil aviation and intelligence collection.
This comes as the US military says they have not found any debris from the three most recent shootdowns (two in the US & one in Canada.) According to the Pentagon, shooting down the latest objects was more difficult than the Chinese spy balloon due to their smaller size and lack of traditional radar signatures, making targeting them challenging. One of the objects fell in ice and snow off the coast of Alaska, and another shootdown happened over Canada’s Yukon territory. While US officials have declined to link the incidents, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that recently, the four aerial objects shot down (including the initial balloon shot down near South Carolina) were somehow related.