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China boasted of its ability to shoot down spy balloons in 2019

(NewsNation) — China bragged about its fighter pilots being able to locate and shoot down spy balloons in a 2019 documentary, four years before criticizing the U.S. for shooting down a suspected Chinese spy balloon.

A clip from a series called “National Defense Stories” shows a fighter pilot practicing shooting down a balloon by pressing a button to launch a missile.

The video shows an apparent training exercise as part of a 2019 documentary. The documentary was rebroadcast on state television outlet China Central Television (CCTV) in 2020, Bloomberg reported.

In the video, an alarm bell prompts a pilot to prepare and board a fighter jet. The clip, translated by Insider, has a CCTV narrator following the action.

According to Insider’s translation, the narrator recites phrases such as “loading missiles,” “powering up,” and “checking the fuselage,” which all are completed quickly.

As the jets take off, a pilot is ordered to “conduct identification and verification” on an unidentified aerial situation, 60 kilometers out at a heading of 220 degrees.

The narrator first identifies a white sphere-shaped object, but closer observation finds it to be an unmanned balloon.

“The supervising command organization judged that it was possibly a super high-altitude surveillance balloon that threatened air defense security,” the narrator says.

The pilot is then ordered to shoot it down with a missile.

The CCTV documentary says “the white balloon exploded with the launch of a missile from the fighter jet’s left wing,” adding that it only took about 30 seconds for the pilot to lock onto and then destroy the target.

Back in the U.S. officials shot down a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon over the Atlantic Ocean Saturday after it was spotted crossing the heartland earlier last week.

The Pentagon said the balloon, which was carrying sensors and surveillance equipment, was maneuverable and showed it could change course. It loitered over sensitive areas of Montana, where nuclear warheads are siloed, leading the military to take actions to prevent it from collecting intelligence.

China has insisted that the balloon was just an errant civilian airship, used mainly for meteorological research, that went off course due to winds and had only limited “self-steering” capabilities.

“The United States turned a deaf ear and insisted on indiscriminate use of force against the civilian airship that was about to leave the United States airspace, obviously overreacted and seriously violated the spirit of international law and international practice,” Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng said.

Television footage showed a small explosion, followed by the balloon descending toward the water. An operation was underway to recover the remnants.

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