The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is keeping a watchful eye on a mysterious high-altitude balloon that has crossed over Hawaii and is now on its way to Mexico.
On April 28, the DoD and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) detected and tracked the unmanned balloon, which was floating at an altitude of 36,000 feet. The ownership of the balloon remains unknown, and there is no indication that it was being controlled by a foreign or adversarial actor.
The DoD spokesman said the balloon did not fly over any critical military infrastructure or U.S. government-sensitive sites, nor did it pose a threat to the military or people on the ground.
"Although it was flying at an altitude used by civil aviation, it posed no threat to civil aviation over Hawaii," the spokesman added. "Based on these observations, the Secretary of Defense concurred with the recommendation of his military commanders that no action need be taken against the balloon."
The balloon has since moved out of Hawaii’s airspace and the DoD said it will continue to track its movement with the FAA.
This is not the first time the DoD has been tracking a foreign or adversarial actor's balloon in U.S. airspace. In February, a Chinese surveillance balloon was detected hovering over Montana. The balloon traversed the entire continental U.S. before the Biden administration ordered shooting the spy craft out of the sky off the coast of South Carolina.
Chinese officials claimed the balloon was a civilian craft gone adrift, but U.S. officials insisted it was a surveillance vessel. A report issued in early April said that the Biden administration had difficulty in blocking the intelligence gathering of the Chinese spy balloon, which ultimately fed information to Beijing in real time.
The DoD is now monitoring the mysterious balloon that crossed over Hawaii, to ensure it does not pose a threat to the U.S. or its people. The DoD will continue to work with the FAA to track its movement and provide updates as they become available.