A large surveillance balloon was spotted over U.S. airspace for several days this week. U. S. Pentagon officials opted not to shoot it down citing concerns of not being able to predict where it might land and causing harm to people on the ground.
A senior defense official said the U.S. has “very high confidence” the high-altitude balloon belonged to the Chinese and that it was collecting information. The balloon was spotted several times, once over Montana, which is home to one of the nation’s three nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base, the official said but spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information.
The U. S. government continues to track the balloon, according to Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, Pentagon press secretary, who provided a brief statement. He said it 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.”
The balloon was seen “drifting in and out of clouds and had what appeared to be a solar array hanging from the bottom,” according to the Billings Gazzette.