Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III released a statement about the Chinese surveillance balloon being shot down.
This afternoon, at the direction of President Biden, US fighter aircraft assigned to U.S. Northern Command successfully brought down the high-altitude surveillance balloon launched by and belonging to the People's Republic of China (PRC) over the water off the coast of South Carolina in US airspace. 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 US territorial waters.
On Wednesday, President Biden gave his authorization to take down the surveillance balloon as soon as the mission could be accomplished without undue risk to American lives under the balloon's path.
After careful analysis, US military commanders had determined downing the balloon while over land posed an undue risk to people across a wide area due to the size and altitude of the balloon and its surveillance payload. In accordance with the President's direction, the Department of Defense developed options to take down the balloon safely over our territorial waters, while closely monitoring its path and intelligence collection activities.