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U.S. Government prepares F-22 fighter jets after alleged Chinese spy balloon spotted above Montana

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A possible Chinese spy balloon that has recently been seen flying over important locations is being followed by the US.

The “high-altitude surveillance balloon” was definitely a Chinese device, according to defense sources. The last time it was spotted, it was above Montana towards the west.

For fear of falling debris, the military chose not to shoot it down.

Until the facts are confirmed, China urged against speculation and “hype.”

Prior to making an appearance over Billings, Montana, on Wednesday, the object went across the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, via Canada, and then over the United States, according to US authorities.

In case the White House ordered the item to be shot down, a senior defense official claimed that the government had combat planes, including F-22s, ready.

Canada announced on Friday that it was keeping an eye on “a possible second incident” involving a surveillance balloon, although it did not identify the possible perpetrator.

According to the statement, it closely collaborates with the US to “safeguard Canada’s sensitive information from foreign intelligence threats”.

Leading military figures gathered on Wednesday to assess the danger, including Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley. At the time, Mr. Austin was on the road in the Philippines.

Malmstrom Air Force Base, in the thinly populated state of Montana, is home to one of only three nuclear missile silo fields in the nation. According to the official, the suspected spy plane was flying over critical locations to gather intelligence.

But because to the risk that falling debris would pose to civilians on the ground, military authorities urged against taking “kinetic action” against the balloon.

Officials withheld details regarding the balloon’s precise size but characterized it as “sizeable,” adding that there were reports of pilots being able to see it even from a distance. Another US source reportedly compared it to the size of three buses, according to US media.

However, the defense department claimed that because US authorities “know exactly where this balloon is and exactly where it’s traveling over,” there is no “substantially heightened chance” of US intelligence being exposed.

Additionally, as the balloon was “substantially” higher than the height employed by commercial airplanes, there was no danger to civil aviation.

The balloon is unlikely to provide much more information than China can already get via satellites, the statement continued.

According to authorities, the US has brought up the issue with Chinese officials at their embassies in Beijing and Washington, DC.

Mao Ning, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, stated that Beijing is now making an effort to confirm the claims of the surveillance balloon and that, “until the facts are clear, making conjectures and hyping up the issue will not help to properly resolve it”.

“China is a responsible country and always abides strictly by international law. We have no intention of violating the territory or airspace of any sovereign country,” Mao Ning said.

At the Pentagon briefing on Thursday, authorities chose not to reveal the aircraft’s present position or the location from which it was launched.

Such surveillance balloons have previously been traced, they continued, but this one “appearing to hang out for a longer period of time this time around”.

It perplexed Montanans on social media, with some sharing pictures of a faint circular object far in the sky. Others claimed to have observed US military aircraft in the region, probably keeping watch over the item.

Chase Doak, a Billings office worker, told the AP news agency that he saw the “big white circle in the sky” and ran home to grab a better camera after noticing it.

The leading Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Marco Rubio, criticized China’s purported balloon.

He tweeted, “The level of espionage aimed at our country by Beijing has grown dramatically more intense & brazen over the last 5 years,”

Republican governor of Montana Greg Gianforte stated in a statement that he had been informed of the “very troubling” circumstances.

The balloon was not mentioned by CIA Director William Burns, who was speaking at a separate event in Washington, DC, on Thursday. Instead, he referred to China as the US’s “greatest geopolitical challenge” at the time.

In advance of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to China the following week, the purported spy vessel is sure to exacerbate relations. An official from the Biden administration’s cabinet will be making their first trip to the nation.

In Beijing, the senior US diplomat will conduct discussions on a variety of topics, including security, Taiwan, and Covid-19.

The Financial Times reported on Thursday that he will also meet with Xi Jinping, the president of China.

One of the earliest types of surveillance equipment are balloons. They are cheaper to run than other air surveillance equipment and can stay in the air for extended periods of time.

Independent Writer. Marketing and communications strategist for politicians, artists, public figures & corporate brands for more than 10 years. Contact: @alejandrosbasso (Twitter)
Escritor independiente. Consultor en marketing y comunicaciones de políticos, artistas, figuras públicas y marcas por más de 10 años. Contacto: @alejandrosbasso (Twitter)