HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) – The F-22 fighter jet that shot down the Chinese surveillance balloon flew from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
According to a statement from the U.S. Department of Defense, an F-22 Raptor fighter from the first Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base fired a single shot at the Chinese spy balloon.
The F-22 was supported by F-15 Eagles flying from Barnes Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts, as well as tankers from Oregon, Montana, South Carolina and North Carolina.
The Navy also deployed USS Oscar Austin, USS Philippine Sea and the USS Carter Hall to support in the effort.
Attorney General of Virginia Jason Miyares tweeted Saturday that he was “grateful for the team at Langley Air Force Base for once again keeping us safe from foreign enemies.”
The balloon was shot down around 2:05 p.m. off the Carolina coast near Myrtle Beach and landed six miles offshore in about 47 feet of water. The DOD says no one was harmed.
Although China was claiming the balloon was a weather research “airship” that was blown off course, defense officials say that is false and that the balloon, “purposely traversed the United States and Canada, and we are confident it was seeking to monitor sensitive military sites.”
The balloon was first spotted near islands off the Coast of Alaska. It then traveled over Alaska, Canada and then re-entered the U.S. airspace over Idaho.
As the balloon went across the continental U.S., steps were taken to protect sensitive information. The DOD said the balloon didn’t pose a military or physical threat.
President Joe Biden ordered the action to take down the balloon on Wednesday, but it was delayed until it was over water off the coast of South Carolina to ensure no Americans on the ground were harmed.
“They successfully took it down and I want to complement our aviators who did it,” President Biden said.
The mission remains in the recovery phase. A number of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels are keeping a perimeter as they search for debris.
A military official said the recovery phase should be “fairly easy” since the balloon came down in a shallow area.