Defense Department Says Chinese Spy Balloon ‘Potentially’ Carried Explosives

It is being reported that the Chinese spy balloon that flew across the U.S. potentially carried explosives. It was roughly 200 feet tall and weighed thousands of pounds.

The U.S. military shot down the balloon, using an F-22 Raptor fighter jet and AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles.

Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, head of U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and Northern Command (NORCOM) disclosed details about the surveillance device.

“The balloon assessment was up to 200 feet tall for the actual balloon,” he told reporters.

“Of the payload itself, I would categorize that as a jet-airliner type of size, maybe a regional jet such as a ERJ [Embraer Regional Jet] or something like that. [It] probably weighed in excess of a couple of thousand pounds,” he added.

Moreover, the Department of Defense (DOD) first spotted the balloon over Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. As it traveled over the U.S., the Pentagon advised President Joe Biden against shooting it down, citing safety concerns.

However, the president stated that he wanted to “immediately” shoot down the spy balloon.

“On Wednesday when I was briefed on the balloon, I ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down – on Wednesday – as soon as possible,” Biden said.

“They decided, without doing damage to anyone on the ground, they decided that the best time to do that was as it got over water,” he added.

Additionally, the safety concerns regarding the shooting down of the spy balloon were the large amounts of debris that could’ve fallen and potentially harmed the people below.

“From a safety standpoint, picture yourself with large debris weighing hundreds if not thousands of pounds falling out of the sky, that’s really what we’re kind of talking about,” VanHerck said.

He added that the balloon had “glass off of [its] solar panels; potentially hazardous material, such as material that is required for batteries to operate in such an environment as this and even the potential for explosives to detonate and destroy the balloon that could have been present.”

The U.S. Air Force General was involved in the shooting down of the surveillance balloon. He cited the fact that the potential for it to have explosives “exists.”

“Anytime you down something like this we make an assumption that that potential exists,” he said.

“We did not associate the potential of having explosives with a threat to dropping weapons, those kinds of things, but out of a precaution, abundance of safety …” VanHerck added.

The defense official added that the debris from the balloon was scattered across an area that measured “more than 15 football fields by 15 football fields.”

The administration has been quick to attack former President Donald Trump by claiming that three spy balloons flew during his administration.

Yet, no such records exist.

NORAD commander VanHerck put the Biden administration’s claim to rest.

“Every day as NORAD commander, it’s my responsibility to detect threats to North America. I will tell you that we did not detect those [previous] threats. And that’s a domain awareness gap that we have to figure out,” he said.

China has condemned their surveillance balloon being shot down, calling the U.S.’s response an “overreaction” and warning that they “retain the right to respond further.