2023 Chinese balloon incident: U.S. fighter jet shoots balloon down

What is the 2023 Chinese balloon incident?

The 2023 Chinese balloon incident is rather an interesting story. When US President Joe Biden learned that a suspected Chinese spy balloon was floating 60,000 feet above Montana, his first thought was to shoot it down.

However, it was both too early and too late by then. After flying over sparsely populated areas, it was now expected to continue drifting over American cities and towns. The debris from the balloon could endanger lives on the ground, according to his top military brass.

The public was unaware of its arrival as it flew eastward over Alaska. It was first detected by North American Aerospace Defense Command on January 28 – in Canada. NORAD continued to track and assess the balloon’s path and activities. But military officials downplayed the intrusion into American airspace, having seen Chinese spy balloons slip into the skies above the US on numerous occasions. Officials say the balloon was not considered an intelligence risk or a physical threat at the time.

This time, however, the balloon continued to fly high over Alaska, into Canada. And back toward the United States, attracting little attention from onlookers on the ground.

And finally, they took it down

It would take seven days from the time the balloon first entered US airspace for an F-22 fighter jet to fire a heat-seeking missile into the balloon on the other side of the country, launching its equipment and machinery into the Atlantic Ocean.

The balloon’s week-long journey across America, from the remote Aleutian Islands to the Carolina coast, left a trail of shattered diplomacy, and furious retaliation from Biden’s political opponents. And a foretaste of a new era of escalating military tension between the world’s two largest economies.

It’s also raised questions about why it wasn’t shot down sooner. And what, if any, information it gathered along the way.