Giant ‘Chinese spy balloon’ discovered hovering high above northern US
A massive Chinese surveillance balloon has been spotted hovering over the northern US, a Pentagon official said on Thursday.
Officials considered shooting down the craft, described by one US official as the size of three buses, while it flew over Montana on Wednesday, before that option was ruled out over conerns about debris.
“The United States government has detected and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now,” Pentagon spokesperson Brig Gen Pat Ryder told NBC News. “We continue to track and monitor it closely.”
“Once the balloon was detected, the US government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information,” he added.
The craft journeyed over the Aleutian Islands, through Canada, then into Montana, according to NBC.
Its precise current whereabouts are unknown.
“Currently, we assess that this balloon has limited additive value from an intelligence collection perspective. But we are taking steps nevertheless to protect against foreign intelligence collection of sensitive information,” a US official told ABC News.
Officials said the balloon has been in US air space for a few days, and the military believes with “very high confidence” the high-altitude craft is of Chinese origin.
The Independent has contacted the Chinese embassy in Washington for comment.
The balloon was reportedly seen in the skies above Billings, Montana, and appeared to have an all-white, circular design.
President Biden met with senior military leaders on Wednesday to discuss options to respond to the suspected surveillance flight, NBC News reports.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated with new information.