DOD: Chinese Spy Balloon May Have Carried Explosives

The Department of Defense (DOD) has provided new details about the Chinese surveillance balloon that was finally shut down on Saturday, along with the recovery effort.

According to the department, the balloon was roughly 2,000 pounds, 200 feet tall, carried a payload the size of a jetliner and potentially carried explosives to destroy itself.

The military has been working hard to recover the pieces of the spy balloon, which was scattered over an area roughly the size of 15 football fields after being shot down.

The Washington Examiner reports that the military has had some success in recovering remnants of the balloon, though officials have stated that the recovery efforts are just beginning.

The effort is being led by the Navy and Coast Guard, who have already recovered some pieces of the downed surveillance balloon — which was shot down by a missile from a U.S. F-22 fighter jet over the Atlantic Ocean near the Carolina coast.

According to Gen. Glen VanHerck — the commander of NORAD and USNORTHCOM — the USS Carter Hall is focusing on “collecting debris” and “categorizing the debris since arrival,” while the USS Pathfinder has been using unmanned underwater vehicles to “eventually produce” a map of the suspected field of debris.

VanHerck also noted that other naval vessels are in the area to ensure the security and safety of the mission.

The general explained their assessment of the balloon, announcing that it was “up to 200 feet tall” and probably weighed “in excess of a couple thousand pounds” — adding that the payload was “a jet airliner type of size, maybe a regional jet.”

Meanwhile, the Biden administration allowed the surveillance balloon to fly across the entire United States before shooting it down — as it entered the U.S. over the Alaskan Aleutian Islands on January 28 and flew through Canada, entering the U.S. again through northern Idaho. President Joe Biden’s DOD refused to shoot the balloon down when it was seen over Montana — which was when the public first learned about it — citing concerns about falling debris, despite the fact that the state is very sparsely populated.

The administration also believed that they would be able to gain more intelligence from the surveillance balloon, which was roughly 60,000-65,000 feet up in the sky, when searching through the wreckage that fell in the ocean. They claimed that they would gather more intelligence from the recovery than China was able to gather from the surveillance balloon, despite the fact that the balloon had flown over sensitive areas — as Montana is home to Malmstrom Air Force base, where one of the nation’s three nuclear missile silo fields is located.

Speaking with the media on Monday, National Security Council coordinator John Kirby discussed the recovery effort.

“They have recovered some remnants off the surface of the sea,” Kirby said. “And weather conditions did not permit much undersea surveillance of the debris field yesterday. They think the debris field is about 15 football fields by 15 football fields square. And so it’s sizable, but they’ve identified that and they think that in perhaps even today, but certainly in the coming days they’ll be able to get down there and take a better look at what’s on the bottom of the ocean.”