The United States has announced that it has detected a spy balloon flying over its territory at high altitude. For now, they rule out bringing it down because of the damage it could cause to the surface.
The United States has detected a hot air balloon spying on its territory. It is Chinese, it flies at high altitude and does not pose any military risk. According to the Pentagon spokesman, this is not the first time that balloon activity of this type has been observed in recent years.
The discovery occurred before the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, began a visit to China, on the first trip of a US Foreign Secretary to the Asian country since 2018.
Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder has said he is constantly watching but for now rules out shooting it down. ” Once the balloon was detected, the US government acted immediately to protect itself against the collection of sensitive information from China, said Ryder, noting that this is not the first time that authorities have detected such a device in recent years.
According to a high-ranking defence official, they believe the balloon belongs to China and have already informed the US president, Joe Biden, of the finding, who has asked for possible options to US military officials.
The head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, and the leader of the Northern Command, General Glen VanHerck, have recommended “not taking any kinetic action” because of the risk it could pose on the surface, because if it is shot down, the remains of the balloon could fall.
The device is “big enough” to cause damage if it is knocked to the ground, they say. According to reports, they considered the possibility of shooting it down on Wednesday in a sparsely populated area of Montana, but finally chose not to take the risk.
The defence official said that this device “has a limited additional value” in terms of gathering intelligence material. He confirms that US officials have been in contact with their Chinese counterparts through various channels, such as the respective Chinese and US embassies in Washington and Beijing.
“We have conveyed to them the seriousness with which we take this issue,” the source said, adding that the US “will do whatever is necessary to protect its people and its territory”.