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China is mad at the US for blasting its suspected spy balloon, but a few years ago, state TV bragged its fighter pilots could shoot one down

A screen grab of the China Central Television clip.A screen grab of the China Central Television clip.

China Central Television

  • A 2020 Chinese state TV clip bragged that fighter pilots could shoot down surveillance balloons. 
  • The video shows a pilot tracking and shooting a balloon during an apparent training exercise.
  • China said Monday that the US shooting down a suspected Chinese spy balloon was “unacceptable.”

China may be upset that the US shot down its suspected surveillance balloon Saturday, but a state TV video clip from 2020 features a segment bragging about how easily Chinese fighter pilots can locate and shoot down surveillance balloons. 

The video from China Central Television (CCTV), translated by Insider, follows an apparent training exercise involving surveillance balloons. 

In the video, a bell prompts fighter pilots to prepare and board a fighter jet that appears to be the Chinese J-10, a multi-role aircraft built for air-to-air combat and strike missions. 

A CCTV narrator describes the action: “Loading missiles, powering up, checking the fuselage, and other procedures were all completed in seconds.”


As the jets take off, a command gives a pilot their simulated mission: “60 kilometers out at a heading of 220 degrees, an unidentified aerial situation has been discovered. Please go conduct identification and verification.”

In the video, pilots quickly locate the object and monitor it.

The CCTV narrator identifies the object: “Through closer observation, it was determined that it was a powered unmanned balloon. The supervising command organization judged that it was possibly a super high-altitude surveillance balloon that threatened air defense security.”

A pilot is then ordered to lock onto the target and shoot it down with a missile. 

The segment concludes with a shot of balloon debris scattered in a forest. It also features other shots of Chinese fighter jets and interviews with military personnel and pilots. 

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Monday that the US shooting down a suspected Chinese spy balloon Saturday was “unacceptable and irresponsible.” 

Photos published Tuesday captured the moment US Navy sailors pulled the down Chinese balloon out of waters near South Carolina. 

The balloon was first spotted in the sky over the US last week. A second balloon, which China admitted it also owns, was spotted over Latin America also last week. 

China said both balloons were “of civilian nature and used for flight test.” Pentagon officials, however, have said both balloons are likely surveillance devices.

Read the original article on Business Insider