The Pentagon provided an update on the suspected Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon floating over the continental United States on Friday, saying it had moved eastwards, but does not pose a threat to people on the ground.
“In terms of the manoeuvrability, again, all I can say right now is at this point, again, it’s moving eastward across the United States, currently over the central United States,” said Air Force Brigade General Pat Ryder.
“Right now, we do not assess that the balloon in its current configuration, at approximately 60,000 feet, poses a physical or military threat to people on the ground,” he added.
On February 2, the US Department of Defense announced they were tracking a spy balloon sent from China. Ryder said the balloon is a violation of US airspace, which he called ‘unacceptable’.
“We have contacted the PRC (People’s Republic of China)”, said the General. “We have clearly communicated that this balloon is violating US airspace and international law, and this is unacceptable”, he added.
The discovery of the surveillance device raises tensions between Beijing and Washington. Earlier on Friday, the White House announced that Secretary of State Antony Blinken would be postponing his scheduled trip to China in response.
The surveillance device was spotted over Montana, which is reportedly home to one of America’s nuclear weapons launch silos at the Malmstrom Air Force Base.
Beijing claims the balloon is designed for weather research and had blown off course.