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How did the US manage to shoot down the Chinese spy balloon with a single missile – and what was on it? | American News

A US military operation to bring down a Chinese spy balloon hovering in US airspace came at a tense time for the two superpowers, whose relationship has been rocky for years.

But how the WE with success shoot him down with a single missile – and what information do they now hope to find in the wreckage?

An extensive underwater search is currently underway to find the remains of the balloon, which the US is confident will show the Chinese lied about its purpose over US airspace.

China previously said it was being used for weather research and had veered off course due to high winds, and with limited “self-steering abilities” was unable to right itself.

Still, the Pentagon says the balloon, which carried sensors and surveillance equipment, was maneuverable and showed it could change course when on the move. lingered sensitive areas of Montana where the nuclear warheads are compartmentalized.

The balloon was then seen over Kansas City and later York County, where the Sheriff’s Department had to remind the public not to shoot it with their own guns: “Your shotgun shells will not hit it NOT. Be responsible. What goes up will come down, including your bullets.”

Fired with a single missile: how the United States shot down a balloon

The fact that the US military was able to shoot the balloon down with a single missile is significant.

Missiles often pass directly through balloons because they are not strong enough to trigger them.

In 1998, British, Canadian and American forces failed to bring down a truly rogue weather balloon over the Arctic.

The Canadian Air Force pumped over a thousand 20mm cannon shells into it, but it still hasn’t deflated.

“They’re designed to hit something solid,” said Professor Michael Clarke, defense and security analyst at Sky.

“It shows some confidence and ingenuity to get it with just one missile.”

A map showing where the balloon was spotted and US Malmstrom Air Force Base

The missile could have been fused to explode exactly three seconds after being fired, or in such a way that the higher atmospheric pressure would have triggered it. Either way, it wasn’t “trial and error”.

In the military operation, F-15 Eagle jets from Massachusetts accompanied the F-22 Raptors, likely to deter “curious” nations that wanted to “take a look”, Professor Clarke said.

“It’s not impossible that the Russians, the Chinese or someone else had a few planes to be curious and see what was going on.”

A second balloon has now been spotted, this time in the sky over Latin America, the Pentagon has announced.

Watch: Future Wars: Could there ever be a conflict between the United States and China?

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Insult to America: why China deployed a spy balloon

It’s a relic of the Cold War era of espionage and a “stunt gone wrong”, according to Professor Clarke.

He said it was probably ‘someone in Beijing thought it would be a good idea’ in retaliation for America’s announcement of the reopening of military bases in the Philippines.

The move, he said, was allegedly designed to “insult Americans”.

The United States was indeed so offended Secretary of State Antony Blinken abruptly canceled a long-awaited trip in Beijing.

In this photo provided by Chad Fish, the remains of a large balloon drift over the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of South Carolina, with a fighter jet and its contrail seen below, on Saturday 4th February 2023. The downing of the alleged Chinese spy balloon by a missile from an F-22 fighter jet created a spectacle over one of the state's tourist hubs and drew crowds reacting with a mix of puzzled looks, distress and cheers. (Chad Fish via AP)
Pic: Chad Fish via AP

“They’ve lost control of this issue because they’re completely wrong now,” Prof Clarke said.

“They violated the airspace, it was shot down, surveillance equipment will be recovered, I’m sure, and it will be shown that it is surveillance equipment, so it will be shown that they have lied.

“And they’ve lost the Blinken visit – for now. The Blinken visit will happen, but maybe in a few months or more.

“They are wrong and Americans can take advantage of it as much as they want.”

But this isn’t the first time a Chinese spy balloon has entered foreign airspace – under the Trump administration there were three similar incidents, which received relatively little media attention at the time. .

Learn more:
What are “spy balloons” and what is their role?
The Confusing Theories Behind China’s ‘Spy Balloon’

The spy balloon route from China to the Aleutian Islands, across Canada and on to Montana
The spy balloon route from China to the Aleutian Islands, across Canada and on to Montana

China would have “wiped” the spy balloon from a distance

It’s unlikely the US cared about the intelligence the balloon was gathering, Prof Clarke said.

“The missile fields in Montana are sensitive facilities, there are a lot of military installations around there,” he said.

“But there’s nothing going on there that you can’t get from the satellites. Although they’re sensitive, nothing new is going on there.”

American planes began circling the balloon as soon as it first appeared and reportedly used military hardware “either to download everything the Chinese had or to interfere with it in some way”.

“You have an airplane that’s circling 10,000 feet below the balloon – you’re able to jam any signals it sends or receives or just suck up whatever it has on it,” he added. .

“The unwritten story of this little fiasco – [which] in the following months will be released – [is] the electronic battle that unfolded as the balloon drifted over Montana.”

But he said it was likely China had cleaned up the spy balloon so the United States was unlikely to salvage much software from the wreckage.

Instead, the material “will prove that the Chinese used surveillance devices, listening devices, communication signals, intelligence devices. They will be able to prove that it was clearly not a weather balloon.”

The discovery of these devices will show that “the Chinese have lied to the teeth”.

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The movements of the Chinese spy balloon

What happens now?

As President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union address on Tuesday, he’s likely to want the ball retrieved in time for him to mention the discovery.

Mr Biden has so far remained relatively silent on the operation and only made a brief statement on the matter when he arrived at Camp David.

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“They successfully removed it”

‘I would be surprised if on Tuesday he didn’t use this to show the kind of president he is,’ Prof Clarke said.

“He’s not demonstrative, he’s not hysterical, he just gets the job done.”

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