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United States: Chinese balloon sighted

A few days after the US Secretary Blinken's visit to China

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin convened today a meeting with military leaders and senior officials from his ministry to examine the threat profile of a Chinese spy balloon spotted over American skies flying over Malmstrom Air. Force Base in Billings, Montana, a military base camp where American nuclear missiles are stored.

"The US government has detected and is monitoring a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is currently over the continental US. The US government, including NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command, EN), continue to follow and monitor him closely". "This type of activity has been seen before in recent years. Once the balloon was located, the US government took immediate action to protect the collection of sensitive information", Pentagon Press Secretary Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said.

"It is clear that the intent of this balloon is surveillance" of sensitive sites to gather information, Austin quickly clarified. The Pentagon has decided not to shoot down the aircraft due to the risk of harm to people on the ground from falling debris. Washington has complained to Beijing, which it has sent not to make "conjectures and inflate the issue". The sighting comes days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to China on February 5 and 6.

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AVIONEWS - World Aeronautical Press Agency