On Saturday, the Chinese surveillance balloon fell into the Atlantic Ocean once it cleared Surfside Beach, South Carolina after being shot down by a US military F-22 fighter jet that launched a missle at the balloon. According to the Daily Mail, Biden issued the order to shoot down the balloon around 2 pm.
Two US fighter jets had been circling the balloon and the Federal Aviation Administration had issued a ground stop for three airports in the Carolinas located in Wilmington, North Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
According to the Associated Press, Biden had told reporters earlier in the day, "We're going to take care of it." An operation has begun to retrieve parts of the balloon.
The FAA had created a Temporary Flight Restriction that covered "about 140 nautical miles wide, or about 20,000 square miles" and ordered all aircraft to stay on the ground. The Biden administration had also restricted the airspace near Myrtle Beach between 12:45 pm and 3:30pm.
The balloon had been flying around 60,000 feet and was roughly the size of three buses.
The balloon that entered US airspace on January 28 was known to the Biden administration for nearly a week before its report in the news on Thursday, February 2, but the White House tried to keep its presence secret to not disrupt Secretary of State Antony Blinken scheduled trip to China, that was postponed after the public's discovery of the balloon.
US Military officials had tracked the balloon as it crossed Canadian airspace and entered America's sovereign skies on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin updated Biden on the balloon but the two military brass could not agree on whether to shoot the foreign surveillance craft down or not.
Joe Biden made the choice to keep the balloon's flight over US soil a secret, reports Bloomberg, as Blinken was scheduled to visit China on Sunday.
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