Large Chinese Balloon Flies Over the United States

“We continue to track and monitor it closely.” says Pentagon spokesperson


Justin Rucker

US officials reported a surveillance balloon the size of 3 Greyhound buses with a technology bay attached to it flying over the continental United States on February 2. Pentagon Brig. General Pat Ryder confirmed that the balloon was “traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to the ground.” It was confirmed that the balloon belonged to China on February 3, 2023, claiming it to be “used for scientific research such as meteorology.”

The balloon was first seen in Billings, Montana, by residents unsure what it was. Though the balloon is currently showing no threat to people on the ground, it’s showing a threat of where it’s flying. It’s reported to be flying over sensitive US sites. One of the sites is the Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, one of three nuclear missile silo facilities in the United States. The balloon is also flying close to the altitude of commercial airlines, causing some to halt flights.

While US Air Force members are currently observing the balloon, a senior US Department of Defense official said senior military officials had advised President Joe Biden not to shoot it down due to fear the debris could pose a safety threat to people on the ground.

To China, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning vaguely responds, “China has no intention of violating the land territory and airspace of any sovereign country.” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s initial visit to China to speak with President Xi Jinping was postponed by President Joe Biden in response.

A spokesperson for Montana’s Democratic senator, Jon Tester, said he was “monitoring this situation closely and will continue to receive updates from DOD.”

Many Republican politicians, including former president Donald Trump, declared to President Biden to “shoot down the balloon.”

That same Friday, reports of a second Chinese balloon that is flying over Latin America. “We are seeing reports of a balloon transiting Latin America, and we now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon.” Pat Ryder said.

The next day, A US fighter jet shot down the suspected Chinese balloon above the Atlantic Ocean off the South Carolina coast, ending the three-day spectacle that dominated headlines and created an international incident.