Balloon intercepted over US likely related to a ‘hobby’: Officials

The high-altitude balloon flying over the U.S. earlier that was intercepted earlier this week was likely a “hobby balloon,” officials said Saturday.

The balloon, which flew at an altitude of over 40,000 feet over Utah, did not pose a security threat, the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s (NORAD) said in a statement to multiple outlets.

“After yesterday’s fighter intercepts, and in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the North American Aerospace Defense Command monitored the likely hobby balloon via ground radars until it left US airspace overnight,” the statement reads.

The U.S. military confirmed Friday that it was tracking the balloon with assistance from the FAA. A NORAD fighter jet intercepted the balloon when it determined it was “not maneuverable and did not present a threat to national security.”

The balloon was around 50 feet tall and carried a 2-foot cube, multiple outlets reported.

The incident comes a little over a year after a Chinese spy balloon flew over the U.S. before getting shot down by an American fighter plane over the coast of South Carolina.
Washington pointed to evidence alleging the balloon was used for reconnaissance with having antennas and other surveillance equipment.

Beijing denied the allegations, but China has also had balloons fly over Taiwan and other countries.

Last year’s spy balloon incident made NORAD tweak radars to look out for more potential threats in the airspace.

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