The US considered the option of using fighter jets to shoot down “Chinese balloons” over the territory, but did not do it because it could cause damage on the ground.
Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder said on February 2 that the US military had detected and tracked what is suspected to be a Chinese spy balloon in the northern airspace of the country in the past few days.
An unnamed US defense official said that when informed, President Joe Biden asked Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to present countermeasures.
The Pentagon has proposed a method of deploying fighter jets to shoot down hot air balloons over Montana, and at the same time dispatching F-22 stealth fighters to the area to be ready for action. The US military has also coordinated with civil aviation authorities to suspend a series of flights to and from the city of Billings in southern Montana.
“We put some planes on standby, preparing for an order to destroy targets over Montana. We want to make sure the airspace in that area is clear. However, even that applies. Despite all precautions, the commanders still considered the danger of the option to shoot down the balloon too high and abandoned the plan,” the official said.
According to the Pentagon, debris from the downed airship could fall and threaten the lives of those below. “Balloons also travel at high altitudes, much higher than aviation operations, and pose no danger to troops or people on the ground,” Ryder said.
The Biden administration considers the device to have “limited value” in intelligence gathering, yielding no data that is different from images from orbiting spy satellites.
“The US military acted quickly to prevent the balloon from collecting critical data, especially as its flight path passed through many sensitive locations. We also took a number of additional countermeasures as a precaution. “, said the official, who declined to be named, but declined to disclose specific actions.
Montana is one of five states in the United States that has a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) site. China has not commented on the information from the US side.
Vu Anh (Theo Time)