It was a “mistake” to not shoot down the suspected Chinese spy balloon when it was hovering over a sparsely populated area, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said on Friday.

“It was a mistake to not shoot down that Chinese spy balloon when it was over a sparsely populated area This is not some hot air balloon, it has a large payload of sensors roughly the size of two city buses & the ability to maneuver independently,” the senator explained:

Rubio also said the suspected spy balloon over the United States is “alarming but not surprising.”

“The level of espionage aimed at our country by Beijing has grown dramatically more intense & brazen over the last 5 years,” he added:

Rubio’s remarks come as some United States officials call on the Biden administration to take more forceful action and shoot down the balloon, which Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder described as a “high-altitude surveillance” balloon. China, while initially feigning ignorance, has acknowledged the balloon, asserting that it is simply a “civilian airship” researching weather — a claim many Republicans are dismissing.

“The CCP spy balloon is as much about weather as the Confucius Institutes are about education,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) remarked. “It is all called SPYING”:

“SHOOT DOWN THE BALLOON!” former President Donald Trump exclaimed, as others have expressed similar sentiments:

The balloon was spotted over Montana, where a nuclear silo field is located. On Friday, the Pentagon said it was ‘currently’ over the center of the United States, Breitbart News reported.

“That Is NOT the Moon!” Montana Resident Spots Suspected Chinese Surveillance Balloon — WATCH below: