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Chinese Spy Balloon Spotted Over Western U.S.

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Chinese Spy Balloon Spotted Over Western U.S

(CTN NEWS) – The Pentagon opted not to shoot down a suspected Chinese Spy Balloon over U.S. airspace for two days owing to hazards to ground personnel, officials said Thursday.

The balloon finding exacerbates U.S.-China tensions.

The U.S. has “very high confidence” it is a Chinese high-altitude balloon collecting intelligence over key sites, a senior defense official told Pentagon reporters.

Montana’s Malmstrom Air Force Base has one of the nation’s three nuclear missile silo fields, where the balloon was sighted. The official discussed critical material anonymously.

Chinese spy balloon spotted over 1

/ AP

Pentagon press spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said the administration is tracking the Spy Balloon.

He added it is “currently traveling at an altitude much above commercial aviation traffic and does not offer a military or physical threat to persons on the ground.”

He noted comparable balloon activity in recent years. He said that the U.S. took precautions to avoid collecting sensitive data.

The defense official said that the U.S. had “engaged” Chinese authorities through several channels and conveyed the matter’s gravity.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken was scheduled to visit Beijing this weekend to establish common ground. Beijing and Washington have been speculating about his visit.

Blinken’s travel plans were unclear after the Spy Balloon’s discovery.

Chinese spy balloon spotted over

/ AP

The senior defense official claimed the U.S. had jet fighters, notably F-22s, prepared to shoot down the balloon on White House orders.

The Pentagon advised against it because even though the Spy Balloon was above a sparsely inhabited Montana area, its size would create a debris field large enough to endanger people.

It was unclear how the military prevented it from collecting vital information or what would happen if the balloon wasn’t shot down.

“The fact that this balloon was occupying Montana airspace generates great worry that Malmstrom Air Force Base and the United States’ intercontinental ballistic missile fields are the objectives of this intelligence collecting mission,” Sen.

Steve Daines, R-Mont., wrote to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday.

“It’s crucial to determine this spy balloon’s flight path, any compromised U.S. national security assets, and all telecom or IT equipment on the ground in the US that it used.”

Large Chinese spy balloon spotted over the US, officials say - ABC13 Houston

According to the defense official, the surveillance balloon was aiming to travel over Montana missile fields, but the U.S. has determined that it had “little” value in giving China intelligence it couldn’t already get from spy satellites.

The official stated the balloon was large enough for commercial pilots to see it at high altitudes. From 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Montana’s Billings Logan International Airport was closed as the military gave the White House options.

The Billings Gazette photographed a big white balloon over the neighborhood, but the Pentagon would not confirm if it was the Spy Balloon.

Gazette photographer Larry Mayer saw the balloon gliding through clouds with a solar array hanging from the bottom.

The defense officials said the balloon’s altitude and duration over a spot worried them.

According to Republican governor Greg Gianforte and spokesperson Brooke Stroyke, the Montana National Guard informed him of ongoing military action in Montana airspace on Wednesday.

“From the spy balloon to the Chinese Communist Party spying on Americans through TikTok to CCP-linked corporations buying American farms.

Chinese spy balloon spotted over 2

/ GETTY IMAGE

I’m gravely worried by the steady stream of frightening developments for our national security,” Gianforte stated.

Taiwan, the South China Sea, Xinjiang human rights, and Hong Kong democracy advocates are all hot-button topics with China.

China’s tacit support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, North Korea‘s ballistic missile program, and trade and technology conflicts are among the most irritants.

In reaction to adjacent actions by 34 Chinese military aircraft and nine warships, Taiwan scrambled fighter jets, alerted its navy, and activated missile systems on Tuesday.

Twenty of those planes crossed the Taiwan Strait’s center line, an unofficial buffer zone since 1949’s civil war.

Military officers, diplomats, and political officials in the U.S., Taiwan’s primary ally, are concerned about Beijing’s preparations for a blockade or military action against Taiwan.

Chinese spy balloon spotted over 3

/ GETTY IMAGE

NBC reported the surveillance blimp.

The Spy Balloon may have been seen by Montana residents during the airport shutdown Wednesday, but it’s unclear.

Chase Doak observed a “huge white circle in the sky” from his Billings office window that was too small for the moon.

He shot some photos, went home to acquire a stronger lens and took more photos and videos. Doak stated the footage showed it slowly moving after 45 minutes of seeing it.

He assumed it was a UFO. “I wanted to chronicle it and take as many shots as possible.”

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Alishba Waris is an independent journalist working for CTN News. She brings a wealth of experience and a keen eye for detail to her reporting. With a knack for uncovering the truth, Waris isn't afraid to ask tough questions and hold those in power accountable. Her writing is clear, concise, and cuts through the noise, delivering the facts readers need to stay informed. Waris's dedication to ethical journalism shines through in her hard-hitting yet fair coverage of important issues.

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