A US weather balloon launched to gather weather data close to the Meyers Fire area in Montana in September 2017InternationalIndiaAfricaWASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The US military detected an unmanned balloon near Hawaii, but determined it posed no threat and no action was required to be taken against it, a Defense Department spokesman told Sputnik.”Applying newly-established parameters for monitoring US airspace, the Department of Defense and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) detected and observed April 28th an unmanned balloon off the coast of Hawaii, floating at approximately 36,000 feet,” the spokesman said on Monday. “Ownership of the balloon is unknown, but there is no indication that it was maneuvering or being controlled by a foreign or adversarial actor.”The spokesman further said the unmanned balloon did not transit directly over critical defense infrastructure or other US government sites deemed sensitive, and it did not pose a military or physical threat to people on the ground. Although the balloon was flying at an altitude used by civil aviation, it posed no threat to civil aviation over Hawaii as well, he added.Based on these observations, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin determined, with the recommendation of his military commanders, that no action needed to be taken against the balloon, the spokesman said, adding the balloon is now out of Hawaii’s airspace and territorial waters but continues to be tracked.In a separate statement, a US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) spokesman told Sputnik on Monday evening that after the US military detected an unidentified radar signature, three F-22 fighter jets were sent out to assess the situation and the pilots visually identified a spherical object.US media earlier detailed US military officials had been tracking the object since late last week, and that it was not transmitting any communication signals. Reports had also indicated that the aircraft was slowly moving toward Mexico, with insiders suggesting American leadership did not believe the unidentified balloon belonged to China.WorldWaPo Unveils ‘Leaked Doc’ Claiming Four New Alleged Chinese ‘Spy Balloon’ Flights15 April, 04:04 GMTEarlier this year, several flying objects were spotted over and near American airspace and quickly prompted allegations of Chinese spying after defense officials determined one device to have origins from China.The incident, which stole headlines for weeks, caused a serious spike in tensions for US-China relations after the suspected spying balloon was downed six miles off the South Carolina coast by an F-22 jet.
The February downing came as the Biden White House drew condemnation from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and after China had earlier explained that the device was a commercial weather balloon engaged in scientific research that had blown off course.
In response to the US' actions, the Chinese foreign ministry blasted the decision as an "excessive reaction that serious violates international convention," adding that it "retains the right to respond further."