Downed Chinese balloon was 200ft tall, US military says
Pentagon officials said last week they did not want to shoot the balloon down over the continental United States for fear the debris could cause civilian injury or death and property damage. The balloon was flying at about 60,000 feet, or nearly 12 miles.
VanHerck said another concern was that the balloon might have carried explosives “to detonate and destroy the balloon”.
Military divers were in the water with robotic underwater equipment picking up debris on Monday after weather conditions prevented diving on Sunday.
As of Monday afternoon, the debris field off the coast of South Carolina was about 1,500 square meters, or about 15 football fields by 15 football fields, the general said.
“We are still in the process of recovering this device and are still trying to get more information about it,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
VanHerck said the military took “maximum protective measures” to “prevent any intelligence gathering” as the balloon flew over the United States.
“We have not assessed that this balloon poses a significant collection risk beyond what already exists in the exploitable technical means of the Chinese,” he said, and officials believe they have learned from this. more by watching the ball itself.
It “gave us the opportunity to assess what they were actually doing, what kind of abilities existed on the ball, (and) what kind of pass-through abilities existed,” VanHerck said. “We were able to get meaningful analysis throughout this process.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry acknowledged that the balloon came from China but claimed on its website that it was “a civilian airship used for research purposes, mainly meteorological” and which had “deviated far from its planned course” due to strong winds and a lack of piloting ability.
Pentagon officials dismissed these claims like hot air; they argue that the balloon was clearly intended for surveillance. “He has the ability to maneuver,” said Pentagon press secretary Brig. General Pat Ryder told reporters last week.