US ‘tracking’ suspected Chinese surveillance balloon last spotted near nuclear missile silo field
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The United States is tracking what is suspected to be a Chinese surveillance balloon, seen flying over sensitive areas of the country in recent days. The orb has been reported to have also travelled further north into Canada.
Defence officials in the US stated they were confident the "high-altitude surveillance balloon" belonged to China. Despite flying over sensitive areas, the military has opted not to shoot it down in case debris falls. Just across the border, Canada said it was monitoring what could potentially be a second incident, but didn’t reveal who they thought may be behind it. They are said to be working in cohesion with the US when it comes to tracking the flying object.
Officials said the ‘spy balloon’ flew over Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and through Canada before appearing over the city of Billings in Montana on Wednesday (February 1). A senior defence official said the government has prepared fighter jets, including two F-22’s in case the White House gives the green light for the object to be shot down.
The object was most recently seen in the western state of Montana. This could be because the state, which is home to over a million people, is also the location of one of only three nuclear missile silo fields in the country, the other two can be found in Wyoming and North Dakota.
The spy craft is said to pose no "significantly enhanced threat" of US intelligence being compromised as American officials "know exactly where this balloon is and exactly where it’s passing over".
He also added that the balloon is unlikely to provide any extra intel to China than the country can already gather via satellite. It has also been confirmed that aeroplanes would remain safe as the balloon was "significantly" above altitude used by airlines in the US.