“High-altitude balloon over Western U.S. not a threat, says Military”

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TL/DR –

The US military is monitoring a small, high-altitude balloon drifting across the country, which has been determined not to pose a threat to national security. The balloon, made of Mylar and carrying a small cube-shaped box, was intercepted by NORAD fighters over Utah; its origins and purpose remain unknown. This event comes one year after a Chinese balloon, carrying spying equipment, flew over the US for several days before being shot down, causing diplomatic tension between the two nations.


High-Altitude Balloon Tracked Across U.S. by Military and Officials

A small, high-flying balloon is currently being tracked by U.S. authorities as it drifts across the country. However, it is confirmed to pose no threat to national security, according to U.S. officials and military statements on Friday.

The balloon’s journey across the U.S., specifically the Western part, was first reported by CBS News. NORAD, the command responsible for U.S. and Canada air defense, confirmed the detection of the object floating between 43,000 and 45,000 feet. Prompted by this unusual activity, aircraft were dispatched to investigate.

Intercepted over Utah by NORAD fighters, the balloon was determined to be non-manoeuvrable and not a security threat. “NORAD will continue to monitor the balloon’s progress”, the defense command stated. The FAA also evaluated the balloon, concluding it posed no hazard to flight safety.

An official informed CBS News that the balloon, seemingly made of Mylar and carrying a small cube-shaped box, was projected to reach Georgia by Friday night. Its purpose and origin, however, remain undetermined.

This incident occurs in the aftermath of a Chinese spy balloon’s trip over the U.S., escalating tensions between the two nations. The Chinese foreign ministry claimed that this balloon was intended for weather data collection but deviated due to high winds. The U.S. military shot it down off South Carolina’s coast.

The spy balloon incident sparked political discord, with President Biden facing criticism over his delayed action to bring it down. However, Biden officials justified their actions, citing minimized risks to ground civilians. Still, this event put U.S. defense on high alert, with several unidentified objects being shot down in the following weeks.

“These objects were most likely balloons linked to private companies or research institutions studying weather or conducting other scientific research,” President Biden explained.

The Chinese spy balloon issue escalated diplomatic tensions between U.S. and China, leading to Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelling his Beijing trip in February 2023. Blinken finally visited Beijing in June to attempt easing tensions over various matters, including the balloon incident and the Chinese military’s assertiveness in the South China Sea.

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