Another Mysterious Balloon Detected in US Airspace - Military Activates F-22s
U.S. officials are monitoring a balloon of unknown origin that floated in Hawaiian airspace over the weekend, but they reportedly have no plans to shoot it down.
Three F-22s fighter jets were sent to investigate Friday “and visually identified a spherical object,” a spokesman for the Indo-Pacific Command said, according to NBC.
“We monitored the transit of the object and assessed that it posed no threat,” he said.
A Pentagon statement said the balloon was floating at 36,000 feet, with “no indication that it was maneuvering or being controlled by a foreign or adversarial actor.”
“The balloon did not transit directly over defense critical infrastructure or other U.S. Government sensitive sites, nor did it pose a military or physical threat to people on the ground.”
CBS quoted a Defense Department spokesman as saying the U.S. military and Federal Aviation Administration will continue to track the object.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about the balloon at Monday’s press briefing, but she referred those reporters to the Defense Department, according to the report.
NBC said “it’s not clear” whether the object was a weather balloon or some other device and quoted a military official as saying the U.S. could still shoot the object down if it nears land.
By Monday evening, the balloon had left U.S. airspace and territorial waters around Hawaii, Politico reported.
The balloon’s presence was detected thanks to “newly established parameters for monitoring U.S. airspace.”
Those parameters were developed after a highly publicized event — when a Chinese spy balloon entered U.S. airspace in February.
That Chinese device “was able to gather intelligence from several sensitive American military sites, despite the Biden administration’s efforts to block it from doing so,” NBC reported.
In an April 3 report, the network quoted three current or former U.S. officials as saying that “China was able to control the balloon, so it could make multiple passes over some of the sites (at times flying figure-eight formations) and transmit the information it collected back to Beijing in real time.”
That spy mission seems to have involved collecting electronic signals from weapons systems or communications from base personnel, according to the report.
The U.S. allowed that spy balloon to traverse the whole continental United States before it was shot down over the Atlantic Ocean near North Carolina.
That act angered the Chinese government, causing “a diplomatic confrontation that prompted Secretary of State Antony Blinken to cancel a planned trip to China,” CBS reported.
Three other “mysterious flying objects” were shot down over North America around that time. CBS quoted National Security Council’s John Kirby as saying those unmanned objects did not appear to be self-propelled and did not appear to be sending detectable communications signals.
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