Jun 29, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Pentagon: Chinese balloon shot down over U.S. did not gather intelligence

 In this handout image provided by the Department of Defense, a U.S. Air Force U-2 pilot looks down at the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon on February 3, 2023 as it hovers over the Central Continental United States.

A U.S. Air Force U-2 pilot looks down at the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon on Feb. 3 as it hovers over the Central Continental United States. Photo: U.S. Department of Defense via Getty Images

The suspected Chinese spy balloon that traversed the U.S. before a fighter jet shot it down over the Atlantic in February didn't collect any intelligence information, a Pentagon official said Thursday.

Driving the news: "We were aware that it had intelligence collection capabilities, but ... it has been our assessment now that it did not collect while it was transiting the United States or over flying the United States," Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Pat Ryder said at a briefing.

  • He said Pentagon officials "took steps" to "mitigate the potential collection efforts of that balloon" and these efforts contributed to this result, though he did not elaborate further.

The big picture: The balloon escalated tensions between Beijing and Washington as it flew over the U.S. for about a week before it was shot down off the South Carolina coast on Feb. 4.

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