Chinese Spy Balloon Spotted Over US Skies, Fighter Jets Stand Ready

Just days before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s planned trip to Beijing, a Chinese spy balloon has been reported flying over the United States. The US Air Force was on standby to shoot it down, but President Joe Biden was advised against it due to concerns over debris.

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The US took “custody” of the balloon once it entered US airspace and has been observing it with piloted military aircraft. A senior defense official has confirmed that the US has “very high confidence” that it is indeed a Chinese high-altitude balloon and that it was flying over sensitive sites to collect information.

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But what exactly are spy balloons? These balloons operate at altitudes of 24,000-37,000 meters above the ground, well above where commercial air traffic and even the highest-performing fighter aircraft typically fly. The balloons are similar to weather balloons used to monitor changes in the local weather, but with a different purpose.

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