It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Chinese Spy Balloon?
Unidentified Floating Object
A suspected Chinese spy balloon has been spotted over the northern U.S., Pentagon says
A suspected Chinese surveillance balloon was spotted drifting over the northern U.S. skies. The Pentagon has been monitoring the high-altitude balloon for several days, CNN reports.
“We are confident that this high-altitude surveillance balloon belongs to the [People’s Republic of China],” a senior defense official said, per the report.
Several methods have been used to track the balloon, including a manned aircraft, according to the Guardian, and was recently sighted over Montana.
While the floating object’s current flight path is headed towards “a number of sensitive sites,” Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said the balloon does not present a significant risk to intelligence, and that the military decided against shooting it down.
“The balloon is currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground,” Ryder said, per CNN. The official also stated that this type of “balloon activity” has been previously observed over the past several years, and that in the past, the U.S. government has taken immediate action to “protect against the collection of sensitive information.”
For now, Biden has reportedly taken the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley’s advice to “not to take kinetic action” due to the risk of possible debris harming people on the ground were the balloon to be shot down.
If the risk level changes, the senior defense official said Thursday that the US “will have options to deal with this balloon.”