WASHINGTON – The Pentagon is tracking a suspected Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon over the continental US, an official said Thursday.
“We continue to track and monitor it closely," Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters.
“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,” he added.
"Once the balloon was detected, the US government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information," said Ryder, noting that similar activity had been previously observed over the past several years.
A senior defense official said the balloon was "clearly" intended for surveillance and entered US airspace two days ago.
He added that they were looking at shooting it down but have considered the risk that it may entail.
“We had been looking at whether there was an option yesterday to take down the balloon over some sparsely populated areas in Montana, but we just couldn't," the official added.
President Joe Biden was briefed about the balloon and asked for military options, he added.
"Currently, we assess that this balloon has limited additive value from an intelligence collection perspective. But we are taking steps nevertheless to protect against foreign intelligence collection of sensitive information," the official added. (Anadolu)