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Pic/Vid: Chinese spy balloon hovering above Montana, moving Southeast

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III briefs the media on Afghanistan, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Aug. 18, 2021. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)
February 02, 2023

The Pentagon is tracking a Chinese spy balloon hovering above Montana, officials revealed on Thursday.

During a background briefing on the situation, a senior defense official told reporters that the Pentagon is “confident that this high-altitude surveillance balloon belongs to the PRC [People’s Republic of China].”

“Secretary Austin convened senior DoD leadership yesterday, even as he was on the road in the Philippines. It was the strong recommendation by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Milley, and the commander of NORTHCOM, General VanHerck, not to take kinetic action due to the risk to safety and security of people on the ground from the possible debris field,” the senior defense official continued.

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“Currently we assess that this balloon has limited additive value from an intelligence collection perspective,” the official added. “But we are taking steps, nevertheless, to protect against foreign intelligence collection of sensitive information.”

Reporter Bradley Warren shared a video of the balloon on Twitter.

Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder released the following statement on the spy ballon:

The United States Government has detected and is tracking a high altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now. The U.S. government, to include NORAD, continues to track and monitor it closely. The balloon is currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground. Instances of this kind of balloon activity have been observed previously over the past several years. Once the balloon was detected, the U.S. government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information.

CNN shared a photo of the Chinese spy balloon on Twitter.

This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.