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US shoots down suspected Chinese spy balloon

US military fighter aircraft shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon as it floated off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday, drawing to a close a dramatic saga that shone a spotlight on worsening Sino-US relations.

“We successfully took it down, and I want to compliment our aviators who did it,” President Joe Biden said.

Mr Biden said he had issued an order on Wednesday to take down the balloon, but the Pentagon had recommended waiting until it could be done over open water to safeguard civilians from debris crashing down to Earth from thousands of metres above commercial air traffic.

Multiple fighter and refuelling aircraft were involved in the mission, but only one – an F-22 fighter jet from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia – took the shot at 2.39pm (3.39am on Sunday, Singapore time), using a single AIM-9X supersonic, heat-seeking, air-to-air missile, a senior US military official said.


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