First images of destroyed Chinese balloon released by US Navy

The balloon was shot down over the weekend. Credit: AP

The first images of the destroyed Chinese balloon that was shot down by the US airforce over the weekend have been released.

The balloon was brought down off the Carolina coast on Saturday after it floated over the mainland US.

The Pentagon described it as a “high-altitude surveillance balloon” that floated over a number of sensitive sites last week.

The balloon was recovered of the Carolinas coast. Credit: AP

It had loitered over areas of Montana where nuclear warheads are siloed, leading the military to take actions to prevent it from collecting intelligence.China claimed the balloon was a meteorological balloon that they had lost control of.

The images released by the US Navy are dated February 5, the day after it was shot down.

President Biden said on Saturday that he had ordered US officials to shoot down the suspected Chinese spy balloon earlier in the week and that national security leaders had decided the best time for the operation was when the it got over water.

The presence of the balloon has already caused a rift between the two governments and prompted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to cancel a weekend trip to China.

The US is recovering all of the downed objects. Credit: AP

After initially reacting coolly to the situation, Beijing has hardened its stance since the balloon was shot down.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning on Tuesday reiterated that the "unmanned airship" posed no threat and entered US airspace accidentally.

Mao criticised the US for overreacting rather than adopting a “calm, professional” manner.

Asked if China wanted the debris returned, she only reasserted that the balloon "belongs to China."

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