“I will tell you that we did not detect those threats, and that’s a domain awareness gap,” VanHerck said.
Officials did not disclose if they were able to get any of the balloon’s “payload” to analyze. It is expected there will be cameras and spying sensors carried by the balloon. And the military hopes that the shoot-down was a success from an intelligence-gathering perspective.
The Pentagon says that similar balloons have been spotted all over Asia and Europe. And there have been recent confirmed sightings Costa Rica and Venezuela.
“Shooting the balloon down addressed the surveillance threat posed to military installations and further neutralized any intelligence value it could have produced, preventing it from returning to the PRC [People’s Republic of China],” said an unnamed defense official.
“In addition, shooting the balloon down could enable the US to recover sensitive PRC equipment.”
China claims the balloons are simply for meteorological observation. And the one the U.S. shot down had just blown off course. They call the episode an “overreaction” by the U.S.