WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – According to a statement from 104th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Specialist Randy Burlingame, the U.S. used F-15s from Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield to assist in the shooting of the Chinese spy balloon on Saturday.

“We’re very proud to have taken part today,” said Col. David ‘Moon’ Halasi-Kun, 104th Fighter Wing commander. “As part of our 24/7/365 mission to protect the United States from aerial threats, we launched two F-15C Eagles in support of the successful downing of the Peoples Republic of China surveillance balloon.”

At the direction of President Biden, the United States has shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast, according to a news release sent to 22News from the Department of the Air Force. Pentagon officials said an F-22 fighter jet fired a missile at the balloon, puncturing it while it was off the coast near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

According to a senior military official, the debris field is at least 7 miles spread out. A Salvage ship will be there to assist in debris collection, including Navy divers. As announced by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and USNORTHCOM, which is a 1st Fighter Wing F-22 Raptor from Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, fired an AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missile and it took down the balloon.

The balloon crossed over sensitive military sites in North America before it was shot down. China is insisting that the suspected spy balloon shot down off the East Coast was a civilian aircraft and that the flyover was an accident, and threatens further action in response.