The Pentagon is tracking what it suspects is a Chinese spy balloon flying over the continental United State., the U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement.
“The United States government has detected and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now,” Pentagon Press Secretary General Pat Ryder told reporters.
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The Department of Defense alleged that the balloon is from China, but said in a statement on its website that it does not seemingly pose a threat. Still, the U.S. has contacted China officials about the presence of the balloon.
“We have communicated to them the seriousness with which we take this issue,” a senior defense official said. “We have made clear we will do whatever is necessary to protect our people and our homeland.”
Suspected Chinese Spy Balloon Spotted Flying Over US
According to BBC News, the balloon was first spotted above Billings, Montana. It had also been seen floating over Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and through Canada.
It appears the U.S. considered shooting down the balloon, but thought better of it, solely because the havoc the falling debris may have caused to the community below.
“We did assess that it was large enough to cause damage from the debris field if we downed it over an area,” the official said when asked about the size of the object during the briefing. “I can’t really go into the dimension — but there have been reports of pilots seeing this thing, even though it’s pretty high up in the sky. So … it’s sizable.”
Another senior official indicated that the balloon is the “size of three busses.”
The Pentagon has also told China it is not taking the balloon lightly.
“We have communicated to them the seriousness with which we take this issue,” the official said. “We have made clear we will do whatever is necessary to protect our people and our homeland.”