'I would shoot down a Chinese spy balloon' Ben Wallace says as US says more have flown around globe

10 February 2023, 10:46

If a Chinese spy balloon were flown over the UK, it would be shot down, defence secretary Ben Wallace has admitted.
If a Chinese spy balloon were flown over the UK, it would be shot down, defence secretary Ben Wallace has admitted. Picture: Alamy

By Caitlin Powell

If a Chinese spy satellite were flown over the UK, it would be shot down, defence secretary Ben Wallace has said following the appearance of two balloons over the US and Latin America.

At a two-day visit to Italian leaders in Rome on Thursday, Mr Wallace said “we all have satellites”.

“I would have recommended it were shot down at the most appropriate moment when we could have acquired the most appropriate levels of intelligence from it,” he said.

Mr Wallace also told The Sun it was “not unusual” for satellites to float in the sky and they have done for years.

“Is it the case that a Chinese satellite has probably circled Britain and looked at us? I should think yes,” he said.

Defence secretary Ben Wallace has said it is "not unusual" for satellites to float through airspace
Defence secretary Ben Wallace has said it is "not unusual" for satellites to float through airspace. Picture: Alamy

The comments came after two white observation balloons were spotted flying in airspace over the US and two countries in South America.

Last week, US fighter jets shot down one device floating over the US, which landed off the Carolina coast.

The US Department of Defence said the balloon was believed to have spied on key military sites across the country, including Montana, which is home to one of America's three nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base.

Read more: US secretary of state postpones Beijing visit after Chinese spy balloon tracked flying across American airspace

Last week, US fighter jets shot down one device floating over American airspace which landed off the Carolina coast.
Last week, US fighter jets shot down one device floating over American airspace which landed off the Carolina coast. Picture: REUTERS/Alamy

China has repeatedly insisted that the "airship is for civilian use and entered the US due to force majeure - it was completely an accident".

Beijing accused politicians and the media of taking advantage of the situation.

Read more: China urges 'calm' as Pentagon says second spy balloon spotted over Latin America

A second white observation balloon had also been tracked by the Colombian Air Force and Costa Rica’s Civil Aviation authority over the two countries.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said the second aircraft “deviated greatly” from its route due to the device’s “limited manoeuvrability” and weather conditions.

It was not the first time Chinese surveillance balloons have been tracked over US territory, including at least once during former president Donald Trump's administration, officials said.

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