Enemies in the air? US shoots down Chinese spy balloon and suspicious object days later

Beyond a show, what caught the attention of the incident was that the balloon was flying over the state of Montana, where in addition to cattle ranches and wind farms there are also nuclear missile silos.

Mexico City, February 11 (However).- The U.S. government has shot down two flying objects days apart. In one case it was a Chinese spy balloon that he had tracked and ended up shooting off the coast of North Carolina in the state of Montana earlier this month. On that occasion he said that it was a “Chinese military surveillance operation”.

“Instances of this type of balloon activity have been previously observed in recent years. Once the balloon was detected, the US government took immediate action to protect against the collection of sensitive information,” the Department of Defense shared in a statement.

The other case occurred this Friday when the Pentagon shot down an unknown object flying in US airspace near the Alaskan coast, White House officials said. The object was at an elevation of about 40,000 feet and posed a “reasonable threat” to the safety of civilian flights, said John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council.

Kirby described the object as about the size of a small car and indicated that it was shot down near the Canadian border. White House officials pointed out, according to the Associated Press, big differences between the two events. Kirby said, for example, that it was still unknown who owned the object and did not say it was a balloon.

Officials were also unable to say if he had any type of surveillance equipment. Kirby also didn’t yet know where he came from or what his purpose was. It is only known that fighter pilots who visually examined the object determined that it was unmanned. It is hoped that the wreckage can be recovered faster than the huge balloon from last week.

In a report, which was issued in January of this year, the Pentagon announced that sightings of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (FANI in Spanish and UAP in English) —as Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO) were renamed— are on the rise

According to the US Office of the Directorate of National Intelligence (ODNI), sightings have skyrocketed since a preliminary report was presented in March 2021 that spoke of 144 sightings of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena registered to over 17 years.

As of the dissemination of this report and up to last August, there have been 247 new reports, to which are added 119 previous sightings that had not been discovered when the first preliminary report was made.

On the other hand, the spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Defense, Tan Kefei, said in a statement that the US reaction to shoot down the unmanned civilian balloon was “exaggerated.”

In this photo provided by Brian Branch, a large balloon hovers above the Kingstown, North Carolina area, while an airplane and its trail of trails are visible below. Photo: Brian Branch via AP.

“China clearly asked the US to properly handle it in a calm, professional and moderate manner. A spokesperson for the US Department of Defense also stated that the balloon did not pose a military or personal threat to ground personnel.

However, beyond a show, what caught the attention of the incident was that the balloon was flying over the state of Montana, where in addition to cattle ranches and wind farms there are also nuclear missile silos.

According to Associated PressIn Congress and parliaments, the balloon ride added traction to decades-old concerns about foreign land ownership.

“The bottom line is that we don’t want the people of China to own our farmland. It goes against food safety and it goes against national security,” he told PA US Senator Jon Tester about the sighting.

In this sense, the news agency reported that foreign entities and individuals control less than 3 percent of US agricultural land, according to data from the US Department of Agriculture; where ties to China control less than 1 percent or about 600 square miles (340 square kilometers).

Despite the US government’s statement, China insisted that the device was a weather balloon that “deviated greatly from its intended course” due to the winds.

“China is a responsible country and has always strictly abided by international law, and China has no intention of violating the territory and airspace of any sovereign country,” said Mao Ning, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The Anomaly Resolution Office and the ODNI ruled out, in the report issued by the Pentagon at the beginning of 2023, the finding of objects of extraterrestrial origin, however they stressed that they have suspicions of involvement by foreign governments.

“Incidents continue to occur in restricted or sensitive airspace, highlighting potential concerns about flight safety or data collection activity by adversaries.”

A US Air Force facility surrounded by farmland in central Montana is seen on February 7, 2023, near Harlowton, Montana. Photo: AP

At the beginning of February, in the midst of the tension between the two powers, the Colombian Air Force and the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that an artifact that was extremely similar to the balloon that was shot down in the US flew over their airspace.

Given this, Ning assured that “the aircraft deviated from its planned route and entered the skies of Latin America and the Caribbean by mistake.”

In this vein, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica announced that, given what happened, China apologized for the balloon that flew over the Central American country.

“The balloon that was observed from various points of the national territory was of a civil nature and had scientific, mainly meteorological, purposes.”

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