US Military Tracking 'Small Balloon' Over Western States

US Military Tracking ‘Small Balloon’ Over Western States

washington — 

U.S. fighter jets are tracking a balloon traveling at high altitudes over the western United States, but officials said there is no danger to anyone either on the ground or in the air.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD, described the object as a “small balloon” being pushed by the wind at an altitude of between 43,000 and 45,000 feet (about 13.72 kilometers).

Fighter jets were sent to intercept the balloon over the state of Utah and “determined it was not maneuverable and did not present a threat to national security,” according to a NORAD statement.

NORAD said it will continue to track the balloon and that it is in contact with the Federal Aviation Administration “to ensure flight safety.”

As of late Friday, the FAA “also determined the balloon posed no hazard” to passenger jets or other planes in the area, NORAD said.

The U.S. military has been watching the skies in and around the United States more closely following the discovery of a Chinese spy balloon that transited the country in February 2023.

Chinese officials said that balloon was designed to research weather and had “deviated from its planned course.” But the Pentagon rejected those assertions, saying the balloon had been designed for surveillance.

The incident heightened tensions between the U.S. and China, and even caused U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to cancel a trip to Beijing to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and other high-ranking officials.

The U.S. eventually shot down the Chinese balloon off the coast of South Carolina, after it had traveled across much of the continental United States.

Following the incident, the U.S. took steps to improve detection of objects in its airspace.

It also began work to establish an accessible and up-to-date inventory of unmanned, airborne objects, and updated rules and regulations for launching and maintaining unmanned objects.  » …
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