Assigned to Assault Craft Unit 4 preparing to transport materials recovered in the Atlantic Ocean from a high-altitude Chinese balloon shot down by the U.S. Air Force off the coast of South Carolina from a ship docked in Virginia Beach, Virginia, to federal agents. U.S. Navy sailors at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek on February 10, 2023. This image released February 13, 2023 by the U.S. Navy in Washington.
Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Lindstrom | U.S. Navy | Handout by Reuters
The United States said Friday it had successfully completed recovery operations off the coast of South Carolina to retrieve sensors and other debris from a Chinese surveillance balloon suspected of being shot down by a U.S. fighter on Feb. 4. , investigators are currently analyzing its “guts”.
The final pieces from the Chinese balloon shot down by the Sidewinder missile are heading to the FBI laboratory in Virginia for analysis, the US military’s Northern Command said in a statement.
Reuters first reported the results of the halted restoration work on Thursday.
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said, “There is a significant amount of[recovered]material, including some of the payload structures, electronics and optics, all now in the FBI laboratory at Quantico. There is,’ he said.
Kirby said the United States had already learned a lot about balloons by watching them fly over the United States.
He told a White House news briefing, “I believe we can learn a lot more by looking at its internal guts and seeing how it worked and what it was capable of.
The US military said Navy and Coast Guard ships that had been washing the sea for nearly two weeks had departed the area.
“Air and maritime security perimeters have been lifted,” Union Command said in a statement.
The U.S. military said it believed it had collected all of the Chinese balloon’s high-priority sensors and electronics, as well as most of its structure.
The Chinese balloon, which Beijing denies was a government spy ship, flew over the United States and Canada for a week before being shot down on the Atlantic coast on the orders of President Joe Biden.
The episode caused an uproar in Washington, prompting U.S. forces to search the skies for other objects not picked up by radar. Performed an unprecedented 3 kills of an unidentified “object”.
But the Biden administration on Friday tried to temper hopes about efforts to recover these three objects, which fell into difficult terrain and, in one case, the very deep waters of Lake Huron.
“We all have to accept that they may not be recovered,” Kirby said, noting that it would be difficult to identify the objects without finding the debris.
The New York Times reported late Friday that searches for two of the three objects had been called off, citing US officials.
The Chinese balloon incident prompted US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to postpone a planned visit to Beijing earlier this month, further straining already frayed ties between Washington and Beijing.
The Blinken visit was the first visit to China by a US Secretary of State in five years and was seen by both sides as an opportunity to stabilize increasingly strained relations.
Since then, US officials have weighed the possibility of a meeting between Blinken and China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, which began on Friday.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, who is also in Munich for the conference, defended the administration’s response to the balloon incident and the shooting down of three other objects.
Harris told MSNBC that the Chinese balloon “had to be shot down because he believed the Chinese were using it to spy on Americans.”
“We will maintain the perspectives we have in terms of what the relationship between China and the United States should be,” she said. “That wouldn’t change, but it certainly didn’t help the balloon.”