Spy Balloon Over US Sky Mainly Used For ‘Meteorological Purposes’: China


Washington/Beijing: A suspected Chinese spy balloon, said to be the size of three buses, was spotted over the United States’ airspace, the Pentagon has said, a development that is likely to further strain the already tense bilateral ties ahead of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s key visit to Beijing.

Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said the US government has been tracking the balloon for several days as it made its way over the northern United States and flying over sensitive installations.

He told reporters on Thursday that the balloon was “travelling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground.” “NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) continues to track and monitor it closely,” he said, adding the balloon was spotted over Montana on Thursday and is “said to be the size of three buses”.

Montana, a sparsely populated state, is home to one of only three nuclear missile silo fields in the US, at Malmstrom Air Force Base.

“Once the balloon was detected, the US government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information,” Ryder said.

Reacting to the Pentagon’s report, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson confirmed that the balloon was a Chinese “civilian airship” which had deviated from its planned route.

“The airship is from China. It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes,” the spokesperson said in a statement posted on the Chinese foreign ministry’s website.

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