OTTAWA – NEWS – The United States has shot down a Chinese balloon that NORAD had been tracking over North American airspace.
The Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Anita Anand, issued the following statement:
“Today, the United States took definitive action to bring down China’s high-altitude surveillance balloon that has violated U.S. and Canadian airspace and international law.
“Yesterday evening and today, the Prime Minister and I were briefed on today’s operation by the National Security and Intelligence Advisor and the Chief of the Defence Staff.
“Officials in the national security community have been working bi-nationally and Canada has been closely engaged with its U.S. counterparts on the decision and unequivocally supports the actions taken. Canada thanks the United States for its close collaboration.
“The bi-national North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been tracking and analyzing the trajectory and actions of the high-altitude surveillance balloon.
“The cooperation between Canada and the United States through NORAD ensures the security and defense of North American air sovereignty, and we thank its members for having the watch.”
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III stated, “This afternoon, at the direction of President Biden, U.S. fighter aircraft assigned to U.S. Northern Command successfully brought down the high altitude surveillance balloon launched by and belonging to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) over the water off the coast of South Carolina in U.S. airspace.
“The balloon, which was being used by the PRC in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States, was brought down above U.S. territorial waters. On Wednesday, President Biden gave his authorization to take down the surveillance balloon as soon as the mission could be accomplished without undue risk to American lives under the balloon’s path.
“After careful analysis, U.S. military commanders had determined downing the balloon while over land posed an undue risk to people across a wide area due to the size and altitude of the balloon and its surveillance payload. In accordance with the President’s direction, the Department of Defense developed options to take down the balloon safely over our territorial waters, while closely monitoring its path and intelligence collection activities.
“This action was taken in coordination, and with the full support, of the Canadian government. And we thank Canada for its contribution to tracking and analysis of the balloon through NORAD as it transited North America. Today’s deliberate and lawful action demonstrates that President Biden and his national security team will always put the safety and security of the American people first while responding effectively to the PRC’s unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.”