On Friday, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stated that the United States is concentrating on removing a Chinese balloon from its airspace and that it is too early to declare any other activities regarding the incident.
According to Eric Schmitt, a senator from Missouri, the Chinese balloon was getting close to the Whiteman Air Force Base, where the B-2 strategic stealth bombers are stationed. Schmitt tweeted that the Chinese “spy balloon” is “right now” heading for Whiteman Base, “home of the stealth bombers,” which is “absolutely unbelievable.”
Whiteman is a key military air base where the U.S. 8th Air Force’s 509th Bomber Wing is based; it is the sole unit equipped with B-2 Spirit strategic bombers. It is the only airbase where all twenty B-2s are based permanently.
On Thursday, a representative for the Department of Defense revealed that a surveillance balloon had been spotted flying above the United States. The military claimed it belonged to China. The administration judged the presence of a foreign espionage apparatus in U.S. sovereign airspace ” unacceptable, ” resulting in the cancellation of a planned trip to Beijing by the Secretary of the Department of State, Anthony Blinken.
A written statement from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that the balloon was a civil aircraft employed for meteorological research that crossed U.S. airspace by accident after being driven there by the wind.
According to the Pentagon, the balloon travelled from the Aleutian Islands across Canadian territory and into the state of Montana. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) follows the balloon’s progress.
The Pentagon asserted that the balloon flew over several important military locations in Montana, including nuclear weapons depots.
Authorities highlighted that, for security reasons, they did not wish to lower the balloon but reserved the ability to intervene.
Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, a spokesperson for the Pentagon, described it as a “surveillance bubble.” According to Ryder, the balloon proceeded to fly at an altitude of 60,000 feet above the interior of the United States.
Ryder explained that the balloon was not a physical threat by stating that it was manoeuvrable. In response to a question about whether the balloon altered direction after entering U.S. airspace, Ryder stated that the U.S. army began following the balloon after it changed course.
When questioned why the balloon had not been shot, Ryder responded that it did not pose a threat at this time and had not been shot owing to the damage it would create if hit, but that shooting is an option and the evaluation is ongoing.
Additionally, defence officials asserted that this was not the first time Chinese spy balloons had been spotted in U.S. airspace, as similar incidents had occurred in recent years.
Mao Ning, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, advised against speculating about the “Chinese spy balloon.” According to the Foreign Ministry, the balloon veered significantly from its intended path due to the wind; Beijing regrets that it flew over the United States.