Update to this story: The Chinese surveillance balloon was shot down on the coast of South Carolina on Saturday, 4 February 2023. More details are below.
The Defense Department considered shooting down a surveillance spy balloon that was spotted over Montana. The Pentagon decided not to shoot it down because it cannot gather additional information that is already available to Chinese spy satellites that are already in operation.
USA Today reported that a Chinese spy satellite in the form of a "high altitude surveillance balloon" was spotted drifting over Montana. It does not currently pose a threat to civilian airspace, but it is being tracked closely. The U.S. military did "put a halt on flights coming in and out of the city of Billings in southern Montana."
Antonio Sabato Jr. posted the following tweet about the Chinese spy balloon.
The Pentagon press secretary, Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder commented on the ongoing situation.
"The United States government has detected and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is flying over the continental United States right now. The North American Aerospace Defense Command continues to track and monitor it closely. -Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder (Source: USA Today)
He also said:
“Once the balloon was detected, the U.S. government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information.” -Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder (Source: USA Today)
This is not the first time a Chinese spy balloon has been detected flying over the United States.
Updates to the Chinese Spy Balloon Story
Update 2/3/23: China claims this is just "a weather balloon that has gone off course." As a result of this incident, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has canceled his trip to China next week.
Update 2/4/23: The Chinese surveillance balloon was shot down on the coast of South Carolina on Saturday, 4 February 2023.
The New York Times reported "the American defense secretary, Lloyd J. Austin III, said that U.S. fighter jets from Northern Command “successfully brought down the high altitude surveillance balloon launched by and belonging to the People’s Republican of China.” The balloon was brought down just off the coast of South Carolina."
Another development in North Dakota is also getting national attention in regard to possible Chinese spying on the U.S. Air Force.
ND Chinese Corn Milling Company Would Pose a 'Significant Risk'
The New York Times reported that Chinese company Fufeng USA planned to build a corn mill on the edge of Grand Forks, North Dakota, less than 15 miles from a U.S. Air Force base.
The Air Force has said that this would be a "significant threat" that would have "significant impacts on our operations in the area."
The New York Times reported "the turnabout in North Dakota comes as the United States rethinks its longstanding trade relationship with China, and politicians in both parties have come to view the country more as a threat than an attractive economic partner. Several states are considering bills this year that would limit or ban Chinese land ownership."
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Antonio Sabato Jr. on Twitter (@AntonioSabatoJr) tweet.
Brook, Tom. "Chinese spy balloon spotted in American skies, Pentagon says; US weighed shooting it down." USA Today. 2 February 2023.
Cooper, Helene and Edward Wong. "U.S. Shoots Down Chinese Spy Balloon Off the Coast of the Carolinas." The New York Times. 4 February 2023.
Smith, Mitch. "Air Force Says Proposed Chinese-Owned Mill in North Dakota Is ‘Significant Threat’." The New York Times. 31 January 2023.
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