US tracks large Chinese spy balloon flying across country, officials say
A huge spy balloon from China is flying over the continental United States, government officials said Thursday.
“The United States government has detected and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is currently flying over the continental United States,” the brigadier said. General Pat Ryder told reporters. “NORAD [North American Aerospace Defense Command] continue to follow him and watch him closely.”
A senior defense official said he was “convinced” the ball was sent by the Chinese government – and this incident is not the first.
“Cases of this activity have been observed in recent years, including before this administration,” the official said.
Earlier Thursday, a senior US official described the balloon to ABC News as being the size of three buses, with a tech bay.
President Joe Biden was briefed on the ball and “asked for military options,” the defense official said. Biden is following the recommendation of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and U.S. Northern Command Gen. Glen D. VanHerck not to ‘take kinetic action because of the risk to safety and security people on the ground from the possible debris field.”
“Currently, we believe that this balloon has limited added value from an intelligence-gathering perspective. But we are nevertheless taking steps to protect ourselves against the collection of sensitive information by foreign intelligence,” the official said. defense.
The balloon was seen over Montana earlier Thursday, they said.
The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed there was a ground stop in Billings, Montana on Wednesday, but an agency spokesperson did not share further details.
ABC News’ Amanda Maile contributed to this report.
This is a developing story. Please check for updates.