On Saturday, February 4th 2023, the United States military shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the coast of the Carolinas. This is not the first time that a Chinese surveillance balloon has been detected in American airspace; on Friday, Chinese officials declared that a floating orb had floated into American airspace and was “mainly meteorological” in nature.
The Pentagon reported that they were tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon over the continental United States before it was shot down. The balloon was flying at an altitude of about 66,000 feet and could be maneuvered but was also subject to the jet stream.
The U.S. official who confirmed the shootdown said that it was done for safety reasons and to protect national security interests. The Pentagon has accused China of spying on America with these balloons and other devices, though China denies any wrongdoing.
The incident highlights growing tensions between the two countries as well as concerns over China's increasing technological capabilities. Experts say that these balloons may be able to gather information that is unseen by other means, such as data from satellites or aircrafts, and could potentially be used for battlefield operations in the future.