Friday, February 3, 2023

Pentagon says it is tracking suspected Chinese 'spy balloon' over US - VIDEO

The Pentagon is tracking a suspected Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon over the continental US, an official said Thursday.

“We continue to track and monitor it closely," Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters.

“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,” he added.

"Once the balloon was detected, the US government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information," said Ryder, noting that similar activity had been previously observed over the past several years.


  1. A Chinese spy balloon has been flying over the United States for a couple of days, US officials said on Thursday, in what would be a brazen act just days ahead of a planned trip to Beijing by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

    Fighter jets were mobilized but military leaders advised President Joe Biden against shooting the balloon out of the sky for fear debris could pose a safety threat, advice Biden accepted, US officials said.

    The United States took "custody" of the balloon when it entered US airspace and had observed it with piloted US military aircraft, one of the officials told reporters on condition of anonymity.

  2. Canada said Thursday it was working with the United States to track a high-altitude surveillance balloon, and it was monitoring a “potential second incident.”

    “A high-altitude surveillance balloon was detected and its movements are being actively tracked,” Canada’s defense department said in a statement.

  3. The US government does not believe that the Chinese surveillance balloon detected over the United States creates a significant value added over what China can collect via its low orbit satellites, a senior US Defense Department official said.

    "Whatever the surveillance payload is on this balloon, It does not create significant value added over and above what the PRC is likely able to collect through things like satellites in low Earth orbit," the official said during a press briefing on Thursday.

  4. The US authorities believe that shooting down a high-altitude surveillance balloon detected in the north of the US, which Washington claims belongs to China, would be too dangerous because of its size, a senior defense official told reporters.

    "I'm not going to go into the exact dimensions. We did assess that it was large enough to cause damage from the debris field if we downed it over an area. We had been looking at whether there was an option yesterday over some sparsely populated areas in Montana. But we just couldn't buy down the risk enough to feel comfortable recommending shooting it down yesterday. So, beyond that, though, I can't really go into the dimensions. But there have been reports of pilots seeing this thing, even though it's pretty high up in the sky. So, you know, it's sizeable," the Pentagon press service quoted the official as saying.

    "We do not doubt that this is a PRC balloon. Why not shoot it down? We have to do the risk-reward here. So the first question is does it pose a <…> physical kinetic threat to individuals in the United States <…>. Our assessment is it does not. Does it pose a threat to civilian aviation? Our assessment is it does not. Does it pose a significantly enhanced threat on the intelligence side? Our best assessment right now is that it does not," the official continued.

    In his words, given that risk, the US military assesses that downing it "wasn't worth it" due to the risk of the debris falling and "hurting somebody or damaging property."

    "That is what we recommended to the White House yesterday," the official said.


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