A large balloon suspected of being used by China to spy on sensitive sites as it flew over the United States was 200 feet tall according to U.S. officials, before it was shot down by an F-22 Raptor fighter jet using a Sidewinder missile, according to the Pentagon.
The U.S. Fleet Forces Command released images of sailors recovering debris from the balloon off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on Feb. 5.
A statement from the military said, "At the direction of the President of the United States and with the full support of the Government of Canada, U.S. fighter aircraft under U.S. Northern Command authority engaged and brought down a high altitude surveillance balloon within sovereign U.S. airspace and over U.S. territorial waters Feb. 4, 2023."
📍ATLANTIC OCEAN - Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 recover a high-altitude surveillance balloon...Posted by U.S. Fleet Forces Command on Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said "the balloon, which was being used by the PRC in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States, was brought down above U.S. territorial waters."
The balloon flew at around 60,000 feet, or around 12 miles.
The balloon's debris field was off the South Carolina coast and at around 1,500 square meters, or the equivalent of about 15 football fields.