The US Navy released photos Tuesday showing its sailors recovering parts of a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that was shot down Saturday off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
The balloon, which was approximately the size of three school buses, drifted across the US over several days at an altitude of about 60,000 feet before an F-22 fighter jet shot it with a missile off the South Carolina coast.
President Joe Biden said he asked the Pentagon Wednesday to shoot the balloon down, but was advised to wait until the balloon was not in an area where falling debris could possibly strike people.
The Pentagon said the balloon was carrying sensors and surveillance equipment, but China has maintained that the balloon was used mainly for meteorological research and that it went off course due to strong winds.
On Sunday, sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 recovered the craft. The Navy posted several pictures of the operation.
The Department of Defense said in a statement that suspected spy balloons from China previously passed over the US three times during President Donald Trump’s administration, but no action was taken.