US tracking suspected Chinese spy balloon as it drifts across Montana to Midwest

The Pentagon was tracking – but won’t shoot down, at least not yet – a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that appeared over Billings, Montana, Wednesday after passing near an American missile launch site.

China’s Foreign Ministry said Friday that the balloon is a civilian weather balloon that was blown off course by westerly winds and entered the U.S. by accident.

U.S. defense officials said late Thursday that they had “very high confidence” the large white balloon belonged to China and that its purpose was surveillance. “The current flight path does carry it over a number of sensitive sites,” an official said in a Defense Department briefing.

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