The first images of the Chinese spy balloon being recovered after it was shot down off the coast of South Carolina have been released. On February 4th, 2023, an F-22 fighter jet intercepted and destroyed the balloon which had been detected hovering over the northwestern United States.
The incident began on January 28th when a large white high-altitude balloon was observed in North American airspace. The US Pentagon quickly identified it as a Chinese surveillance device and began tracking its movements. After several days of monitoring, the decision was made to shoot it down and retrieve any evidence it may have contained.
On February 2nd, US sailors were dispatched to recover what remained of the balloon from the ocean floor. The mission was successful and they were able to bring back several pieces of debris for analysis.
The images released show a large section of the balloon being pulled out of the water by a crane attached to a boat. It is believed that this is one of the largest pieces recovered from the mission and provides valuable insight into how these balloons operate.
China has since come forward and admitted that the balloon belonged to them but denied any malicious intent behind its use. They claim that it was simply a meteorological research vessel that had gone off course due to strong winds in the area.
This incident has caused tensions between China and the US to rise even further with both sides accusing each other of espionage activities in their respective countries. It remains to be seen how this will play out in future relations between both nations but for now, we can at least take comfort in knowing that justice has been served with regards to this particular incident.