Dramatic videos have emerged of the moment the Chinese spy balloon flying over US airspace was shot down by two F-22 fighter jets on Saturday afternoon. Videos show a missile being launched from one of the two US Airforce F-22 aircraft before it hits the huge balloon in the air as it comes down like a piece of clothing.
The Chinese spy balloon floated across American airspace for eight days and covered over 4,000 miles after it first crossed the US border. The balloon was shot down over the Atlantic Ocean off the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed Saturday.
Several videos have been circulating on social media that show a US missile hitting the Chinese spy balloon that was hovering over the US airspace for at least eight days. On Saturday afternoon, the balloon was shot down.
One of the videos shows two fighter jets approaching the balloon as American people followed the balloon from Montana all the way to the Carolinas. One of the jets is then seen charging a missile at the massive white balloon.
The missile then crashes onto the balloon and immediately blows off the balloon, which is seen slowly coming down like a piece of cloth. The two jets are then seen flying past the Chinese balloon as it comes down. A thick line of smoke left behind by the jets then covers the sky.
In some of the videos posted online, people can be heard rejoicing after the balloon was shot down. In another video, several lines of smoke can be seen in the sky as the jets continue to hover around after shooting down the balloon.
Also, the balloon's collapse and descent from the sky could be seen on television, despite the US's insistence that it was spying and China's claim that it was for meteorological purposes.
In an eyewitness video posted to social media, the balloon appeared to disintegrate in a white puff before its remnants dropped vertically into the ocean below.
Twitter user Haley Walsh posted that she "heard and felt the explosion" in Myrtle Beach, a popular resort town in South Carolina.
In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, a crowd lining the beach boardwalk cheered as a missile from the F-22 fighter struck the balloon. It quickly deflated and plummeted to the ocean.
"That's my Air Force right there, buddy!" news agency AP quoted a person as saying just after the missile's impact.
A video was taken by tourist Angela Mosley as well. Mosley told AP that she came out of a store and saw four fighters circling, then saw the balloon. "One of the fighter jets gets going fast and gets closer to it, and then a boom and we knew it was gone."
End of the Wait
US officials said an F-22 Raptor fighter jet shot down the balloon with a single AIM-9X sidewinder missile six miles off the coast of South Carolina at 2:38 pm on Saturday. According to a senior military expert, the debris field was nearly seven miles wide, and the water's depth was estimated to be 47 feet.
"On Wednesday, when I was briefed on the balloon, I ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down on Wednesday as soon as possible, without doing damage to anyone on the ground," Joe Biden told reporters.
"I want to compliment our aviators who did it," President Biden told reporters as he cheered the downing en route to Camp David.
The two aircraft, both of which were based at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia, circled the surveillance craft as it approached the South Carolina coast while the Federal Aviation Administration closed three airports in North and South Carolina and the airspace over Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and Wilmington due to "national security initiatives,"
One of the F-22s fired a single AIM-9X missile at the balloon once it had drifted safely into the Atlantic, according to a senior military source.
At 2:39 pm, the air-to-air, heat-seeking, supersonic projectile found its target about 7 miles off the coast of Myrtle Beach.
The enormous white sphere, which experts compared to three school buses in size, disintegrated in a cloud of white smoke, leaving behind its wreckage as its bulky solar panels and surveillance equipment fell into the ocean below.
US Navy and Coast Guard warships secured a perimeter in order to enable "competent Navy divers" and unmanned vessels to gather the debris, which washed ashore in around 47 feet of water
The Chinese craft "was being used by the PRC in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States," Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said.
"Today's deliberate and lawful action demonstrates that President Biden and his national security team will always put the safety and security of the American people first," Austin said.
Approximately an hour after the balloon descended, local airports resumed regular operations, according to the FAA. Locals in Horry County, South Carolina, were advised to stay away from any debris that had washed up on the area's beaches and to report any remnants to the authorities so that they can be included in an inquiry by the federal government.
Dexter Roberts, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Asia Security Initiative, said the spy balloon saga came as the relationship between the United States and China hit "one of its lowest points in many years."
"The fact that it was over US sovereign airspace is very bad news for the US-China relationship," Roberts told The Post, noting the host of flash points â Taiwan's independence, human rights issues, and China's support of the Russian war in Ukraine â between the two superpowers.
Meanwhile, the administration headed to the Chinese embassy seeking an explanation as they continued to get ready for Blinken's historic diplomatic visit.
The administration finally informed the public on Thursday, after a local Montana newspaper, the Billings Gazette, released pictures of the balloon.
The Pentagon disagreed with China's apology for the overflight, stating that the object was a maneuverable surveillance aircraft rather than a weather balloon that had been blown off track.
One of the states over which the balloon flew over was Montana, which is home to some of the US stockpile of nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles.