Authorities Explain Why The US Didn’t Shoot Down The Alleged Chinese Spy Balloon

One concern stands out above the rest as the US and its Canadian allies continue to keep an eye on a rumoured Chinese surveillance balloon hovering above the northern United States: Why hasn’t it been shot down?

The balloon passes over “a number of important sites” in the US, according to officials. The intercontinental ballistic missile silos for the US military are located in Montana, and the balloon, which is the size of three buses, has been spotted over that state.

According to a defence official, US Northern Command is working with NASA to identify the debris field in the event that the balloon was to be shot down.

However, so far, officials have decided that the risk of the balloon itself is outweighed by the potential harm that could be caused by falling debris. They also said that the balloon does not have the capacity to gather more intelligence than China’s existing low-Earth orbit spy satellites.

Why not take it out? A senior defence official stated on Thursday, “We have to weigh the risk against the return here. Therefore, the first inquiry is: Does it constitute a threat, specifically physical and kinetic harm, to people living in the US homeland? Our conclusion is that it does not. Does it endanger commercial aviation?

Our conclusion is that it does not. Does it present a materially increased threat from an intelligence perspective? Right now, our best conclusion is that it does not. Given that profile, we determine that the risk of downing it was not worth it, even though the likelihood of the debris falling and injuring someone or causing property damage is low in a sparsely populated area.

This isn’t like ‘Top Gun,’ where it just explodes and doesn’t go anywhere, a US official told CNN on Friday. Its size and metal composition would endanger hundreds of Americans.

Following a briefing on the balloon’s movements, President Joe Biden asked his military advisors for options. And although it was thought of crashing the balloon while it was above Montana, the recommendation was decided to not do so. According to an official statement on Thursday, the Biden administration took “immediate” action to prevent the gathering of critical intelligence.

The US has “options to deal with this balloon” if the risk it poses changes, the senior defence official said on Thursday. However, that is not to suggest that it won’t be shot down ultimately.

“We have made (Chinese officials) aware of how seriously we take this matter…. However, we have made it plain that we would take all necessary steps to protect our citizens and our country, the official said.

The balloon, which “deviated considerably from its planned course,” was described by Chinese officials as a “civilian airship utilised for research, primarily meteorological objectives.”

According to two US officials, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelled his forthcoming trip to China in response to the balloon sighting. The delay ushers in a critical new stage in the conflict between Beijing and Washington.

According to a US official, there have recently been incidences involving suspected Chinese spy balloons above Hawaii and Guam. “Instances of this behaviour have been noticed over the previous many years, including prior to this administration,” a senior defence official stated on Thursday.

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