The U.S. military is tracking another “mysterious” balloon that flew over U.S. soil, according to a report from NBC News. It is currently unknown what the object is or who it belongs to, though officials do not believe that it came from China.
According to one U.S. official, the military has been tracking the balloon since last week and have determined that it does not currently pose a threat to aerial traffic or national security, nor does it appear to be communicating signals. The object did fly over portions of Hawaii, but did not go over any sensitive areas, officials told NBC News.
It remains unclear whether the object is a weather balloon or something else, one official said, adding that it could still be shot down if it nears the continental United States. The object does not appear to have any ability to maneuver and is currently drifting towards Mexico, according to the report.
U.S. officials do not currently believe that the object belongs to the Chinese government, though they are still working to determine its origin and owner.
🚨#BREAKING: The U.S. military is tracking another mysterious balloon that flew parts of Hawaii
The US military is currently keeping tabs on a mysterious balloon that was spotted over American airspace, but it's unknown what it is or who it belongs to. The… pic.twitter.com/Vn6GYNia30
— R A W S A L E R T S (@rawsalerts) May 1, 2023
The latest incident comes just weeks after a Chinese spy balloon flew over parts of the United States. It was eventually shot down off the coast of South Carolina on February 4.
Senior U.S. officials have since confirmed reports that the balloon collected intelligence from important military installations. After entering Alaskan airspace, the balloon idled over the Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana for several days. From there it was able to collect information on electronic signals used by weapons guidance systems, which was relayed to Beijing in real time.
China was able to control the balloon from the ground so that it could make multiple passes over sensitive military sites. After the balloon’s presence became public knowledge, it started to move faster, officials said, in an attempt to get it out of U.S. airspace as quickly as possible.
Officials have also confirmed that the balloon was equipped with a self-destruct function, though this was not utilized. It is unclear whether the mechanism malfunctioned or if China opted not to trigger it.