The Pentagon on Friday evening announced that another Chinese spy balloon had been identified and is flying over Latin America.
“We are seeing reports of a balloon transiting Latin America. We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon,” Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said.
This marks the second Chinese spy balloon found after the first one was discovered floating over the continental United States on Thursday.
Ryder said on Thursday:
The U.S. government, including NORAD, continues to track and monitor it closely. The balloon is currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground. Instances of this kind of balloon activity have been observed previously over the past several years. Once the balloon was detected, the U.S. government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information.
However, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry claimed the balloon is a “civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes.”
“Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course,” the spokesperson said on Friday before news of the second spy balloon broke.
It is unclear where in Latin America the second balloon was discovered, but U.S. officials told CNN the second balloon does not appear to be headed toward the country.
United States officials urged President Joe Biden to shoot down the first balloon found flying over American airspace.
“It was a mistake to not shoot down that Chinese spy balloon when it was over a sparsely populated area,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said.
Former President Donald Trump urged Biden to “SHOOT DOWN THE BALLOON!”
However, the Pentagon on Friday rejected calls to shoot down the balloon, arguing that “any potential debris field would be significant” and could lead to “civilian injuries or deaths or significant property damage.”