WATCH: US fighter jet F-22 Raptor shoots down Chinese spy balloon


New York: Moments from the video when a US fighter jet shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday (4 February) have gone viral on social media. It had been flying across the US, including over the sensitive military bases of the country.

Moment Chinese ‘spy’ balloon was deflated

The Chinese surveillance balloon was shot down by a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor jet from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia off the coast of South Carolina.

A viral video shows the moment the aircraft fired a single AIM-9X missile from an altitude of about 18,000 metres (58,000 feet) at the Chinese ‘spy’ balloon, which had been travelling at a height of about 18,000 to 19,800 metres.

The video shows multiple aircraft were used, but it was an F-22 raptor which fired the missile that brought the 'spy' balloon down.

Why F-22 Raptor to shoot down 'spy' balloon?

As per reports, the F-22 Raptor is the US Air Force’s crown jewel. It is considered to be the most advanced aircraft in the world with capabilities that tower over almost anything any other nation can put up. A total of 195 Raptors have been produced by Lockheed Martin, all of them in service of the US Air Force.

Also Read: First the ‘spy’ balloon, now the question of its return deepens US, China crisis

Among the fighter jets that US has, the F-22 has the highest service ceiling and is considered to be the most capable of conducting a precision strike at that altitude.

The US Department of Defence said that the F-22 fired the Sidewinder at the balloon from an altitude of 58,000 feet. The balloon at the time was between 60,000 and 65,000 feet.

It was F-22 Raptor's first "air-to-air" combat kill on Saturday when it shot down the alleged surveillance balloon of China, using a $400,000 AIM 9X Sidewinder missile.

'Deliberate and lawful action'

The incident has raise international tensions along with further estranging US-China relationship. The US claims that the balloon was on an intelligence-gathering mission, travelling over a number of sensitive military sites including missile silos. China claims it was for meteorological observation.

Must Read: Chinese ‘spy’ balloon: With payload of jetliner, it carried explosives to detonate, self-destruct, says Pentagon

The balloon entered Alaskan airspace on 28 January and flew south over Canada before returning to US airspace over Idaho on 31 January.

US secretary of defense Lloyd Austin called the operation a “deliberate and lawful action” that came in response to China's “unacceptable violation of our sovereignty”.

President Joe Biden congratulated the fighter pilots involved and said: "They successfully took it down. And I want to complement our aviators who did it," Biden told reporters in Maryland."

Chinese 'spy' balloon controversy

The controversy began early last week when the US officials said they were tracking a large Chinese "surveillance balloon" in the US skies. On Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelled a rare trip to Beijing designed to contain rising US-China tensions.

After initial hesitation, China admitted ownership of the "airship," but said it was a weather balloon that had been blown off course.

Don't Miss: Authorised Pentagon to shoot down Chinese spy balloon days ago, says Biden as critics slam him for policy blunder

In a statement last Friday, Chinese foreign ministry said: "The airship is from China. It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes."

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WATCH: US fighter jet F-22 Raptor shoots down Chinese spy balloon
WATCH: US fighter jet F-22 Raptor shoots down Chinese spy balloon
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