U.S. Military Spots Second Chinese Balloon Over Mainland

U.S. military fighter jet airplanes flying over the western part of the United States intercepted another high-altitude balloon Friday, the second in around a year’s time that the military has spotted in U.S. airspace over open American country. The first was a Chinese balloon that chilled international relations. The most recent may have been a hobbyist’s balloon.

“The balloon was intercepted by NORAD fighters over Utah, who determined it was not maneuverable and did not present a threat to national security,” a NORAD spokesperson explained.

“NORAD will continue to track and monitor the balloon. The [Federal Aviation Administration] also determined the balloon posed no hazard to flight safety. NORAD remains in close coordination with the FAA to ensure flight safety,” the spokesperson added.

Officials say the mysterious flying object does not seem to be a threat, but they are still puzzled about its origin and purpose. The military first saw the balloon moving east in the jet stream at a high altitude, over 40,000 feet above sea level. Witnesses saw it over Colorado earlier in the day.

The balloon left U.S. airspace as federal authorities tracked it.

“After yesterday’s fighter intercepts, and in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, the North American Aerospace Defense Command monitored the likely hobby balloon via ground radars until it left US airspace overnight,” NORAD reported in a statement Saturday.

The same day the second Chinese balloon emerged, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray stating, “It is time that the administration comes clean about what it knows regarding the balloon and when it knew it,” in reference to the balloon from a year ago.

After discovering the 200-foot tall craft in its airspace to its surprise, the United States accused its global strategic partner and rival of sending a spy balloon to collect data about the country for Chinese government intelligence purposes.

China insisted that it was no spy vehicle but a weather balloon that flew off course. There is no dispute that the balloon used data it collected from U.S. cellular towers transmitting signals over the air to orient itself and navigate over the United States heartland.