Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Military experts are looking into a potential spy balloon found near the coast of Alaska

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The military is checking out a balloon found by fishermen near Alaska last week to see if it’s a spy balloon, a person from the Defense Department told CNN.

The balloon is now at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska, according to department spokesperson Sue Gough.

“We don’t know why the balloon was in the waters off the coast of Alaska, and we’re not going to describe it right now. But we hope to find out more about the balloon’s origin and purpose after looking into it further, which will be done by multiple agencies,” Gough said.

On Wednesday, the Defense Department publicly acknowledged for the first time that the debris found was a balloon.

Last week, fishermen off the coast of Alaska had told the police they found a strange object. After looking at pictures taken by the fishermen, officials got worried it might be a spy balloon. FBI agents met the boat when it came back to port.

At that time, it wasn’t clear what the object was, and officials weren’t sure if it was a balloon. But the FBI decided it looked similar enough to a surveillance balloon owned by a foreign government to need more investigation.

Last year, people in the US found out about high-flying surveillance balloons when a Chinese spy balloon seemed to go off course and went across the continental US. That balloon entered US airspace through Alaska.

The US thought the spy balloon was part of a big surveillance program run by the Chinese military, as CNN reported. US officials said the balloon fleet had done at least 24 missions over five continents in recent years.

After that incident, it seemed like China stopped the program, but it’s not clear if they started it again. In January, Taiwan accused Beijing of sending many balloons through its airspace.

The Biden administration eventually took down the balloon that flew over the US last February.

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