The Pentagon said Friday that the Chinese spy balloon is currently over the center of the continental United States and is expected to continue floating over the U.S. for a “few days.”
“Right now we assess that it’ll probably be over the United States for a few days. But we’ll continue to monitor, review our options, and keep you updated as we can,” Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said at a briefing.
He refused to disclose exactly where it was, however, other than it was floating “eastward.”
“What we’re not going to do is get into a hour by hour location of the balloon. Again, we’re monitoring it closely. As I mentioned, right now, it’s over the center of the continental United States. That’s about as specific as I’m going to get,” he said.
He added, however, “The public certainly has the ability to look up in the sky and and see where the balloon is.”
Ryder would not discuss what “options” are being reviewed about what to do about the balloon or whether it could be shot down.
“We’re reviewing options. I’m not going to go into more specifics of that,” he said.
He did say that factors included the “potential for debris” and the “impact on civilians on the ground or property damage.”
He said the balloon was assessed to be at about 60,000 feet and “well above the range of civilian air traffic or where civilian air traffic would normally fly” and was not a “physical” or “military” threat at the moment.
He said the balloon had a “payload” under it, but reiterated that the balloon was for “surveillance” and not a threat.
He declined to say whether the balloon was able to be controlled by the Chinese or had an engine, but said the balloon had changed course and that it had “the ability to maneuver.”
He also declined to say whether President Joe Biden wanted it to be shot down.
“I’m not gonna get into discussions, internal discussions within the White House again, right now we assess that there is no threat of physical threat or military threat to people on the ground. So we’re continuing to monitor, you know. We’ll just leave it at that,” he said.
Ryder said the Pentagon is aware of Chinese claims the balloon was a weather balloon that veered off course, but said, “We are aware of the [People’s Republic of China] statement. However, 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.”
“We do know that the balloon has violated U.S. airspace and international law, which is unacceptable. And so we’ve conveyed this directly to the PRC at multiple levels,” he said.
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