Here’s why China’s spy balloon hasn’t been shot down

Here’s why China’s spy balloon hasn’t been shot down
U.S. Department of State from United States, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Chinese balloon that floated into United States airspace this week isn't being shot down because of fears it would trigger a massive explosion.

The balloon, spotted over Montana Wednesday, was determined by the U.S. to be a rudimentary surveillance device. It was such a concern that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin convened a call with the top military to discuss whether or not to shoot it down.

MSNBC reported that the Chinese made an announcement Friday morning that it was a "civilian airship used for climate research purposes and that it deviated from its planned course and expressed regret that it unintentionally entered U.S. air space."

Overnight, however, Canada spotted another one over that country. In a statement, Canadian authorities said "a high-altitude surveillance balloon was detected and its movements are being actively tracked by NORAD."

Former President Donald Trump ranted on his personal social media site that the balloon must be shot down but, for now, President Joe Biden decided against it.

According to the reports, the DOD recommended against shooting it because it could contain helium. That would likely cause an explosion that could cause debris to fall over a populated area. While it may look small to those on the ground, the balloon is large and floating around 150,000 feet above the ground.

For now, the United States military is using it for their own spying, monitoring how the balloon behaves and where it goes.

It isn't expected to be an advanced spying apparatus the way that a space satellite would be. NORAD brought in F22s at one point to observe it and collect information.

Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey told MSNBC that he thinks it was collecting data on the Air Force 331st Missile Wing, which is nuclear-equipped. He agreed it was likely more effective than a suborbital Chinese satellite 300 miles up. He also explained that to his knowledge the U.S. has never sent a balloon to China because American spy satellites are "so good" that it wouldn't be a "symmetrical advantage."

It's a serious provocation by the Chinese, the general explained. It's coming just days before Secretary of State Anthony Blinkin was set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. That trip has now been post-poned, the White House announced.

It also comes after a shocking memo was written by U.S. Air Mobility Command Mike Minihan predicting a war with China by 2025.

You can see videos below from those on the ground viewing the balloon, or at the link here:

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