Shoot something that’s 10 miles up over mountainous areas, or the Artic, and your salvage efforts will be nearly impossible. When I heard the balloon was shot down very close to Myrtle Beach, SC in 47 ft of water, I couldn’t have been happier. Perfect conditions to run a recovery operations. Recovery vessels could get to the site within hours. Time is of the essence.
Senators and members of the House held a closed door briefing. “There was nothing in there that I learned that would’ve said that we shouldn’t have shot it down when it was over Alaska,” added GOP Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas, exiting the briefing.
Assistant Secretary of of Defense Melissa Dalton testified at the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing:
“A key part of the calculus for this operation was the ability to salvage, understand and exploit the capabilities of the high altitude balloon.”
Without salvage of the equipment aboard the spy balloon, China would continue with their absurd cover story of an off-course weather balloon shot down by the US. And certainly other countries could go along with it, just to keep good relations with China. Now we’ve got the evidence to the contrary.
The Assistant Secretary further stated (summarized by CNBC):
“If we had taken it down over the state of Alaska … it would have been a very different recovery operation,” she said, noting that the deep, freezing water of the Bering Sea “would make recovery and salvage operations very dangerous.”
The temperature of the Bering sea is 40 degrees, and the Aleutian trench is 25,000 ft deep, approximately 50 to 100 miles wide. The Assistant Secretary was too kind. There would have been no recovery operation. It would be far too difficult at these depths.
Sure, blowing the balloon up over Alaska would be great for headlines if that’s all you’re interested in. But it would have destroyed the evidence of China’s illegal spy operations which is occurring in many countries. I am certain the Defense Department will be sharing what they know about China’s new generation of spy balloons with our NATO allies and allies in South America. I would love it if Secretary Austin makes a presentation at the UN Security Council. However, there is no need to turn up the heat at this point and our salvage operation is ongoing.