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US Navy Release Photos of Chinese Spy Balloon Debris

The US Navy has publicized the first official images of its effort to recover the Chinese surveillance balloon which was shot down over the Atlantic Ocean.


According to Aljazeera and News Agencies, the photos which were published on Tuesday, February 7 showed the US Navy members from an explosive ordnance group leaning over a rigid-hull inflatable boat and pulling in broad swathes of the balloon’s white outer fabric and shell structure.

US Navy Publicizes Chinese Spy Balloon Recovery Images.
PHOTO/COURTESY:US Navy Publicizes Chinese Spy Balloon Recovery Images.

Using underwater drones, warships, and inflatable vessels, the Navy is carrying out an extensive operation to gather all the pieces of the device, which spent several days flying over North America last week before being shot down on Saturday off the coast of South Carolina.

The surveillance balloon measured approximately 60 metres (200 ft.) tall and was carrying a long sensor package underneath, which the head of US Northern Command, General Glen VanHerck, said earlier this week was about the size of a small, regional jet.

US Navy Publicizes Chinese Spy Balloon Recovery Images.
PHOTO [US Navy via AP]: This image provided by the US Navy shows sailors recovering the balloon off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, February 5, 2023.

Further, China has said that the balloon was an “unmanned civilian airship” that was primarily recording weather data and had blown off course, the United States denounced its presence in US Airspace as an “unacceptable” violation of the country’s sovereignty.

VanHerck said on Monday, February 6 that the teams involved in the balloon recovery efforts were taking precautions to safeguard against the chance any part of the balloon was rigged with explosives.

US Navy Publicizes Chinese Spy Balloon Recovery Images.
PHOTO/COURTESY: The US Navy shows members recovering the balloon off the eastern coast of the US, February 5, 2023.

The Navy is also using ships to Map and Scan the Sea floor for all remaining parts of the balloon so US analysts can get a full picture of what types of sensors were used and to better understand how the balloon was able to manoeuvre.

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The incident has increased tensions between the two countries, prompting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone a planned visit to the Chinese capital Beijing that had been expected to begin on the coming Sunday.

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Beijing said the decision to shoot down the device “seriously impacted and damaged” its relationship with the United States, but White House National Security Spokesperson John Kirby, on Monday, said Washington was not seeking confrontation.

Kirby dismissed China’s contention the balloon was for meteorological purposes, saying “it strains credulity that this was some kind of weather balloon that was floating on the winds”.

US Navy Publicizes Chinese Spy Balloon Recovery Images.
PHOTO/COURTESY: The US Navy pulling the ballon from the water.

Notably, the relations between the two powers have been strained in recent years by a number of issues, from disputes over technology and trade to the status of the self-ruled island of Taiwan, which Beijing sees as part of its territory.

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