Here's why China's spy balloon hasn't been shot down
Xi Jinping and Joe Biden (AFP)

The Chinese balloon that floated into United States airspace this week isn't being shot down because of fears it would trigger a massive explosion.

The balloon, spotted over Montana Wednesday, was determined by the U.S. to be a rudimentary surveillance device. It was such a concern that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin convened a call with the top military to discuss whether or not to shoot it down.

MSNBC reported that the Chinese made an announcement Friday morning that it was a "civilian airship used for climate research purposes and that it deviated from its planned course and expressed regret that it unintentionally entered U.S. air space."

Overnight, however, Canada spotted another one over that country. In a statement, Canadian authorities said "a high-altitude surveillance balloon was detected and its movements are being actively tracked by NORAD."

Former President Donald Trump ranted on his personal social media site that the balloon must be shot down but, for now, President Joe Biden decided against it.

According to the reports, the DOD recommended against shooting it because it could send debris falling over a populated area. While it may look small to those on the ground, the balloon is large and was floating around 150,000 feet above the ground Friday morning. As of the Pentagon briefing on Friday afternoon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said that it had fallen to 60,000 feet.

He also said that “it has the ability to maneuver” and he would not reveal how they knew that it was a surveillance balloon. When asked if the Chinese was still in control of it or whether it was floating randomly, he refused to answer.

For now, the United States military is using it for their own spying, monitoring how the balloon behaves and where it goes.

It isn't expected to be an advanced spying apparatus the way that a space satellite would be. NORAD brought in F22s at one point to observe it and collect information.

Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey told MSNBC that he thinks it was collecting data on the Air Force 331st Missile Wing, which is nuclear-equipped. He agreed it was likely more effective than a suborbital Chinese satellite 300 miles up. He also explained that to his knowledge the U.S. has never sent a balloon to China because American spy satellites are "so good" that it wouldn't be a "symmetrical advantage."

It's a serious provocation by the Chinese, the general explained. It's coming just days before Secretary of State Anthony Blinkin was set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. That trip has now been post-poned, the White House announced.

It also comes after a shocking memo was written by U.S. Air Mobility Command Mike Minihan predicting a war with China by 2025.

You can see videos below from those on the ground viewing the balloon, or at the link here:

The Chinese Spy Balloon