China’s spy balloon was shot down Saturday afternoon over the Atlantic Ocean not far from Myrtle Beach in South Carolina.
The balloon was downed shortly after 2:40 p.m. Eastern Time.
Video of the balloon sinking in the sky from its 60,000-foot elevation did not appear to show debris falling from the balloon. The Biden administration had cited fear of debris as a reason not to shoot down the balloon earlier in the week.
— Devon Pace (@elitedevon) February 4, 2023
Video of the balloon getting shot down over Myrtle Beach!! pic.twitter.com/nGA5RXA14P
— Jason Sellers (@JasonSellers32) February 4, 2023
According to CNN, Navy Coast Guard vessels were standing by to recover any pieces of the balloon that fall.
Earlier Saturday, two Air Force KC-135R refueling tankers were in position off the coast of South Carolina, according to CNN. The planes were flying at about 20,000 feet. A Coast Guard C-130 Hercules was flying off the coast of North Carolina at about 4,000 feet.
The action came after the Federal Aviation Administration enacted a ground stop to prevent landings and takeoffs from Wilmington, North Carolina and Myrtle Beach and Charleston, South Carolina.
— myrtle beach mafia (@zman_mma) February 4, 2023
The balloon first attracted public controversy Wednesday as it hovered near multiple military sites in Montana. China has insisted that the balloon was a civilian airship that went off course.
A report on Bloomberg said that U.S. officials were aware of the balloon back on Jan. 28, when it first entered American airspace over the Aleutian Islands. The balloon then drifted into Canada before returning over Idaho on Tuesday.
The report said that with Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s scheduled visit to China “keeping it on the down-low was key.” However, the furor over the balloon led to the trip’s cancellation.
Despite downing the balloon on Saturday, the Biden administration took withering criticism from E. Casey Wardynski, a former assistant secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs in the Trump administration, according to Fox News.
"Who wants to join this team? This will make recruiting harder because people are gonna look at this and say, 'Well, this is a feckless bunch,’” he said.
Wardynski said China could have taken action.
"They can land this balloon," he said. "They steer it by changing altitude and picking up different winds. If they can change altitude, they can change it to zero."
Wardynski said the lack of action that took place as the balloon drifted across America amounted to " an excuse to do nothing, which is the kind of government we've got — a do-nothing government."
He noted that the balloon was treated differently than almost any other aircraft.
"It's our airspace. They would've shot this thing down long ago if it was an American aircraft," he said.
The Biden administration’s blustering "feeds into the overall picture of the Defense Department, which is that it's a crowd that can't shoot straight,” he said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.