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Suspected Chinese spy balloon spotted over US skies, Pentagon says

The Pentagon is “convinced” that the balloon spotted over Montana is a surveillance balloon from China, a senior defense official said Thursday.

A senior defense official said the United States was “urgently” engaged with Chinese officials and that President Biden was briefed on the situation.

Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Mark Milley and deputy chairman Christopher Grady recommended not to take “dynamic action” because of the danger from the debris, defense officials said. The U.S. government has also determined that balloons pose no threat, defense officials said.

Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said balloons “currently fly at much higher altitudes than commercial air traffic and pose no military or physical threat to people on the ground.” said.

A US official told CBS News the balloon was flying at an altitude of about 66,000 feet. Although it is maneuverable, it is susceptible to jet streams and could eventually be pushed out of U.S. airspace, officials said.

Silos capable of holding intercontinental ballistic missiles were located around the Montana site, and fighter jets were scrambled to shoot down the balloons.

Such incidents have happened before, but never lasted this long, according to defense officials. said the official.

The Pentagon’s best assessment at the moment is that balloon surveillance capabilities have not improved significantly from what China could likely gather through other means, such as satellites in low-Earth orbit. Out of caution, the Department of Defense has taken additional mitigations to protect certain sites.

A source familiar with the situation told CBS News that Biden initially wanted to shoot down the balloon when briefed on Wednesday. However, when he asked Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Millie, and others for military options, they advised against such action on the grounds of the danger to Americans on the ground.

Ryder said the US government will continue to “follow and monitor closely.”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tweeted on Thursday that “China’s brazen disregard for U.S. sovereignty is a destabilizing act that must be addressed and President Biden must not remain silent.”

“I’m requesting a Gang of Eight briefing,” he said. I have writtenrefers to a bipartisan group of eight congressional leaders tasked with reviewing national intelligence information.

The Canadian Department of Defense (DND) said in a statement late Thursday that the balloon had been “discovered” and that Canada was “taking steps to ensure airspace security, including monitoring for a potential second incident.” but did not elaborate on what the incident was.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command was “actively” tracking the balloon, DND said.

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte said in a statement Thursday that he had “received an information briefing” on Wednesday “regarding the situation involving a suspected Chinese spy balloon flying over Montana.” We are deeply troubled by the constant flow of developments,” he added. for our national security. ”

David Martin contributed the report.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/chinese-spy-balloon-china-montana-pentagon-today-2023-02-02/ Suspected Chinese spy balloon spotted over US skies, Pentagon says

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