RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — After a U.S. fighter jet using a heat-seeking missile shot down a Chinese spy balloon on Saturday, what is happening off the coast near the North Carolina/South Carolina border?
Before the downing of the balloon, we have since learned that a radar image about 13 miles off the coast of Myrtle Beach was likely not the balloon being shot down.
A smoke or chaff device was set off in that area and the actual balloon shoot-down happened much closer to shore, experts now say.
Pentagon officials said an F-22 Raptor fired a Sidewinder missile at the balloon just 6 miles off the coast.
That missile punctured the balloon and sent it into the ocean — as close to the North Carolina border as it is to Myrtle Beach.
A large area — from Wilmington, North Carolina, to Charleston, South Carolina — was blocked off to civilian flights just before the spy balloon was shot down.
However, a much smaller no-flight area was later established close to the N.C./S.C. border — and off the coast of North Myrtle Beach.
That gives a better idea of where the recovery of the Chinese balloon debris is taking place.
Meanwhile, at least one special recovery ship has arrived in the area and is loitering just off the South Carolina coast.
According to Marine Traffic, a ship, the USS Carter Hall, is now in the area.
The USS Carter Hall is a Landing Ship Dock that can transport and launch amphibious craft, vehicles, crews and embarked personnel in an amphibious assault.
U.S. Naval Institute News also reported guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin and guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea are also in the area helping in the recovery of the Chinese balloon.
The debris landed in 47 feet of water, shallower than military officials had expected. Still, it was not immediately clear how long the recovery would take, but officials said it would not take months.