The US is monitoring the Chinese spy balloon that has been hovering over Montana for several days: Biden wanted to shoot it down with an F22, but the Pentagon advised against it because of debris falling
- A Chinese surveillance balloon has been hovering over the north of the United States for several days, the Pentagon confirmed on Thursday
- Defense officials debated shooting it out of the sky on Wednesday while it was over Billings, Montana – but opted to monitor it closely instead
- F-22 Raptors were dispatched from Nellis Air Force Base in southern Nevada, but they did not attack the object
The balloon can be seen in the sky over Montana
A massive Chinese surveillance balloon has been hovering over the northern United States for the past few days, senior defense officials confirmed Thursday – with Joe Biden being briefed on his options on Wednesday, including being shot down from the sky.
Biden suggested shooting down the high-altitude balloon after it was spotted and reported by civilians on an airliner, US officials told The Wall Street Journal.
The Pentagon opposed the move, fearing civilian casualties if the giant balloon — the size of three buses — exploded mid-air.
“The United States government has spotted and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon just over the mainland United States,” Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told NBC News.
“We continue to follow and monitor it closely.”
F-22 Raptors were dispatched from Nellis Air Force Base in southern Nevada, but are not believed to have engaged with the balloon – but their activities prompted a ground stop at Billings Airport, with air traffic controllers leading a “special force.” Mission.’
Sources told NBC News that there were concerns about possible debris that could result from the balloon being shot out of the sky. ABC News reported that it was the size of three buses and had what it called a “technology bay.”
It flew over Billings, Montana on Wednesday, NBC reported.
China is supposed to fly a surveillance balloon over the USA, Joe Biden (left) wanted to shoot it down. Pictured at right is President Xi Jinping
The Pentagon said that as soon as it was discovered, it acted to prevent sensitive information from being stolen.
“As soon as the balloon was spotted, the US government acted immediately to protect itself from the collection of sensitive information,” they said – without specifying what action they took.
The high-altitude balloon was spotted over Billings, Montana on Wednesday – after flying over the Aleutian Islands, through Canada and into Montana.
The Pentagon said the balloon was still over the US – but wouldn’t say where.
In a sign of how seriously the incursion was being taken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin gathered his military chiefs for an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss the balloon. He was traveling in the Philippines at the time.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday gathered his top advisers and military chiefs to discuss the spy balloon
Present were Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; General Van Herck, commander of NORTHCOM/NORAD, and other combatant commanders, NBC reported.
They discussed shooting it out of the sky but decided it was too risky to recommend.
Pentagon leaders presented the options to President Joe Biden on Wednesday, NBC said.
“Currently, we believe that from an intelligence gathering perspective, this balloon has limited added value beyond what the PRC can do through other means,” the senior defense official said.
“Nevertheless, we are taking all necessary steps to protect ourselves from the collection of sensitive information by foreign intelligence services.”
The official said the balloon posed no threat to civil aviation because of its altitude.