Pentagon confirms second Chinese spy balloon has been spotted
CHICAGO - The U.S. government says another Chinese spy balloon is traveling over Latin America.
"We are seeing reports of a balloon transiting Latin America," Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesperson, told Fox News Friday night. "We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon."
Ryder said during a briefing Thursday the U.S. government detected a high-altitude surveillance balloon over the continental U.S.
Image of a suspected Chinese spy balloon. China said Friday that a balloon spotted over American airspace was used for weather research and was blown off course, despite U.S. suspicion it was spying. (Credit: Chase Doak via Storyful)
A senior defense official said during the briefing the U.S. government is "confident" the surveillance balloon is from the People's Republic of China.
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The balloon was recently over Montana, and the official said the government considered shooting it down but decided against using military force because of the potential risks.
When President Biden was briefed on the situation, he asked for military options, the official said.
"You did see reports yesterday of a ground stop at Billings Airport and the mobilization of a number of assets, including F-22," the official said. "The context for that was that we put some things on station in the event that a decision was made to bring this down while it was over Montana."
A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Friday the balloon is a "civilian airship" being used for meteorological purposes and deviated from its planned course.
"The airship is from China. It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes," the spokesperson said. "Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course."
The Pentagon does not believe the object is a weather balloon that veered off course.
"This was intentional," a senior U.S. official said, adding that the balloon initially took off from mainland China.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled a previously planned trip to China as a result of the balloon's discovery.
The balloon was seen over Kansas City, Missouri, Friday. Ryder told reporters the balloon will probably hover over U.S. airspace "a few days."