EERIE photos of a reported Chinese spy balloon have emerged as the US tracks the surveillance tool after declining to shoot it down.
The balloon has been spotted in multiple places over the past few days, including Montana, which is home to the Malmstrom Air Force Base.
4A suspected Chinese spy balloon has been spotted in Montana4The balloon halted traffic at a Montana airport on WednesdayCredit: Reuters4The Pentagon has been in contact with Chinese officialsCredit: AP:Associated Press4President Joe Biden met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in NovemberCredit: ReutersMalmstrom Air Force Base houses one of the three nuclear missile silo fields in the US.
Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, Pentagon press secretary, provided an official statement on the situation earlier on Thursday.
“The United States Government has detected and is tracking a high altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now.
“The U.S. government, to include NORAD, continues to track and monitor it closely.
“The balloon is currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground. Instances of this kind of balloon activity have been observed previously over the past several years.
“Once the balloon was detected, the U.S. government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information.”
A senior defense official said that the U.S. has been in contact with Chinese officials over the seriousness of the matter, according to the AP.
That official also said that the U.S. was prepared to shoot it down if ordered to do so by the White House.
However, the Pentagon recommended not going through with that plan, as pedestrians could have been at risk.
The government sent aircraft, including F-22 Raptors from Nellis Air Force Base and airborne early warning aircraft known as AWACs, to investigate.
They were reportedly ready to shoot the balloon down before the plan was called off.
Air traffic was temporarily halted at Billings-Logan International Airport on Wednesday due to the balloon.
The ground stop lasted from 1.30pm to 3.30pm, according to an official statement from Billings city.
The incident comes as Secretary of State Antony Blinken is supposed to travel to China.
Formal plans for his trip have yet to be announced.
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk