It will reportedly take multiple days to retrieve the wreckage of the Chinese spy balloon that was downed off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday, sparking early concerns that China might reach the craft before U.S. forces.
After a two-day-long drama that saw the Chinese craft fly, unmolested, across the continental United States from Montana to South Carolina – hovering over sensitive U.S. military bases and nuclear missile silos throughout the journey – two F-22 Raptor fighter jets took down the balloon with single AIM-9X sidewinder missile at 2:38 p.m. off the coast of Myrtle Beach, the Daily Mail reported.
Video of the balloon bursting was quick to emerge, and now audio has been released featuring of one of the fighter pilots confirming, “The balloon is completely destroyed” after the single missile hit its target.
However, after the craft was downed, the Navy and Coast Guard quickly had to establish a perimeter around the debris field, which Fox News reported was about 7 miles wide in the water around 47 feet deep.
Citing a senior military official, the outlet reported that the current timeline for recovering the debris “is unknown.” Further, it will take “a couple of days” for a Navy salvage vessel to make its way to South Carolina.
Watch the moment a Top Gun pilot took down the Chinese spy balloon:
It’s unclear whether the recovery will require specialized craft, but both the United States and China have acknowledged the sensitive nature of the balloon’s inventory.
Biden faced severe scrutiny from Republicans, including 45th President Donald Trump, over waiting to shoot down the balloon, but over the weekend the 80-year-old claimed that he ordered the Pentagon to shoot down the balloon last Wednesday, but his orders were delayed.
Watch Biden’s remarks on Spreely.video:
Despite some critics noting that the balloon likely traversed the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, the White House maintains that the Pentagon determined shooting it down over the Atlantic would be the best course of action, and that the U.S. Armed Forces were able to intercept and jam the spy balloon’s communications while it remained airborne.
Republicans maintain that it was irresponsible to allow the Chinese surveillance device to traverse the United States.
This news and commentary by Tom Pappert originally appeared on Valiant News.