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Uncovering the Mystery: Tracking China's Aerial Incursions Over the USA, What's the Next Move?

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Aerial Incursions

Military Nuclear Sites Four unidentified flying objects, one of which is believed to be a Chinese spy balloon, have recently been spotted entering U.S. and Canadian airspace. All of them were shot down by the U.S. military. Although the incidents share similarities, such as taking place within close proximity of each other, they also have distinct differences, including varying heights and flight paths. The U.S. military has not confirmed the origin or purpose of the objects, apart from the first one which was described as a Chinese reconnaissance vessel. However, China has disputed this claim.

A timeline of the events involving the four objects is provided below. The increase in sightings is said to be a result of improved surveillance by the military, rather than an influx of foreign objects in American airspace. According to one U.S. official, the military has adjusted its radar parameters to be able to detect more than before. Although they were not previously unaware, the military is now more finely attuned to the presence of floating objects. First Aerial Object Spotted Over South Carolina January 28th, the first balloon was reported to have entered U.S. airspace north of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, according to a senior military official. Photos from later sightings showed that the object was a large white dirigible with an undercarriage, which was described as being the size of three buses by one U.S. official. January 30th, the balloon entered Canadian airspace over the Northwest Territories, as reported by a senior military official. January 31st, the balloon continued its journey south and reentered U.S. airspace over northern Idaho, as per the statement of the senior military official. The White House later confirmed that President Joe Biden was briefed about the balloon for the first time on the same day. February 1st, one of the earliest sightings of the balloon was confirmed in Reed Point, Montana. According to U.S. officials, the balloon then traveled southeast through South Dakota and Nebraska. The administration later stated that on February 1st, President Biden ordered the balloon to be taken down once it was feasible, but the threat of harm to civilians delayed the military action.

February 4th, the balloon was captured over Lancaster, South Carolina as it continued its journey toward the coast. Later in the day, footage showed the balloon being shot down over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of South Carolina. The balloon was struck by an F-22 firing a missile about six nautical miles off the coast, according to a senior U.S. defense official. The balloon was ultimately downed in U.S. airspace over U.S. territorial waters by fighter aircraft assigned to U.S. Northern Command, as confirmed by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

China criticized the U.S. for downing the balloon, calling it a "strong dissatisfaction and protest." The Chinese foreign ministry stated that the balloon was an airship for civilian use and entered the U.S. due to force majeure, which was completely accidental. The ministry asserted that they had informed the U.S. about the nature of the balloon. February 6, the US Navy deployed vessels to the area where the wreckage of the balloon was scattered and conducted a search to retrieve parts of the fallen craft.

According to a high-ranking official, the FBI is expected to take possession of any recovered elements of the balloon's cargo and transport them to their laboratory in Quantico, Virginia for examination and intelligence gathering.

February 8, Brigadier General Pat Ryder from the Pentagon revealed that China had carried out four aerial surveillance missions using balloons over "sensitive locations" within US borders in recent years. However, he did not specify the exact location or timing of these incidents."

Second Aerial Object Spotted in Alaska