The Department of Defense acknowledged a second Chinese surveillance craft transiting airspace somewhere over Latin America late Friday.
The second balloon’s flight path does not appear to include the United States, CNN first reported, citing officials. Earlier on Friday, DOD confirmed that the first surveillance balloon was moving eastward and that the U.S. government continued to monitor its travel, while the White House’s national security team provides regular updates to President Joe Biden.
“We are seeing reports of a balloon transiting Latin America. We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon,” press secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement.
Meanwhile, a video circulating on social media appeared to show an explosion taking place above Billings airbase in Montana, where aircraft were scrambled Wednesday in preparation to take action against the balloon. A defense official told Fox News the video is not real. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: ‘Shoot It Down’ — Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke Rips Biden Admin For Not Taking Out Chinese Balloon Over His State)
A Chinese spy balloon has been flying over the United States for a couple of days, U.S. officials said, one a defense expert estimates is equivalent to the size of three bus lengths https://t.co/BhcAHLUddz 1/5 pic.twitter.com/oMrJXNuwgz
— Reuters (@Reuters) February 3, 2023
Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed his planned trip to China after DOD revealed it had been tracking the suspected surveillance craft for several days.
China denied the balloon served to gather intelligence on sensitive U.S. sites, saying a weather balloon had gotten caught in adverse winds and blown off course. However, DOD refuted China’s claims.
“The fact is we know that it’s a surveillance balloon, and I’m not going to be able to be more specific than that. And we do know that the balloon has violated U.S. airspace and international law, which is unacceptable,” Ryder said.
The balloon has the ability to maneuver and is flying at roughly 60,000 feet above sea level, out of range of normal air traffic, Ryder added, but declined to provide further details.
The National Security Council and the Chinese Embassy to the U.S. did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.
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