Small, nonthreatening balloon intercepted over Utah by NORAD

Feb 23, 2024, 3:19 PM | Updated: 5:54 pm

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A small, nonthreatening balloon spotted flying high over the mountainous Western United States was intercepted by a fighter jet over Utah on Friday, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

NORAD fighter pilots sent in the morning to investigate the balloon determined it was “not maneuverable” and did not present a threat to national security, spokesperson John Cornelio said. The balloon was still in the air, under close observation.

NORAD, a joint military command tasked with defending the airspace over the U.S. and Canada, has not said where the balloon came from or why it was flying over Utah and Colorado.

There has been heightened interest in reports of balloon overflights after the military identified — and eventually shot down — a large, white Chinese spy balloon that crossed much of the country last year. But officials said the balloon intercepted Friday was not sent by a foreign adversary and posed no threat to aviation or U.S. security.

NORAD said it was continuing to coordinate with the Federal Aviation Administration to track and monitor the balloon, which was detected at an altitude varying between 43,000 feet (13,100 meters) and 45,000 feet (13,700 meters), Cornelio said. NORAD declined to specify where in Utah pilots encountered it.

Early reports of the balloon sighting had raised concern among lawmakers including U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana, who said their offices were monitoring the situation. The office of Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said it had been in touch with local military officials.

The Chinese balloon that was downed last year off the coast of South Carolina after a weeklong path over multiple military sites was part of a global surveillance program that Beijing has been conducting for “several years,” according to the Pentagon. It was outfitted with advanced technology designed to collect intelligence signals, the Biden administration said.

China denied that it was conducting military surveillance and said it was a civilian balloon that accidentally veered off course while collecting weather data. After it was shot down, Chinese officials said they reserved the right to “take further actions” and criticized the U.S. for “an obvious overreaction and a serious violation of international practice.”

Similar spy balloons linked to the People’s Liberation Army — the military wing of China’s ruling Communist Party — have been detected floating over five continents. Just last month, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry detected four Chinese balloons, including three reportedly flying by a key air force base.

National News

Image: With protesters in the audience, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun takes his seat to testify before th...

Associated Press

Boeing CEO apologizes to relatives of 737 Max crash victims, defends firm’s safety record

Lawmakers grilled the Boeing CEO about the firm's plans to fix its manufacturing issues and its willingness to heed whistleblowers' warnings.

28 minutes ago

Associated Press

Man who followed woman into her NYC apartment and stabbed her to death pleads guilty to murder

NEW YORK (AP) — A man pleaded guilty to murder on Tuesday for stabbing a woman to death after following her from the street into her lower Manhattan apartment building. Assamad Nash, 27, also pleaded guilty to burglary as a sexually motivated felony in the Feb. 13, 2022, attack on 35-year-old Christina Yuna Lee. “Today […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Vermont lawmaker apologizes for repeatedly pouring water in her colleague’s bag

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A Republican state lawmaker from Vermont has apologized for repeatedly pouring water into a Democratic colleague’s bag, after he caught her doing it on video. State Rep. Mary Morrissey publicly apologized to state Rep. Jim Carroll, colleagues and the citizens of Vermont from the House floor on Monday. Both are from […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Google to invest another $2.3 billion into Ohio data centers

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Google will invest an additional $2.3 billion to support three data center campuses in central Ohio, the company announced Tuesday. The tech giant has centers in New Albany and Lancaster and one under construction in Columbus to help power its services such as search, Gmail, maps, cloud and YouTube for users […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Massachusetts suffers statewide outage of its 911 services

BOSTON (AP) — The 911 system across Massachusetts went down Tuesday afternoon, making it impossible for anyone to reach emergency services. “The State 911 Department is aware of a disruption to the 911 system and is investigating the cause,” the state’s Office of Public Safety and Security said in a statement. Boston Police Commissioner Michael […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

15-year-old girl shot to death hours before her middle school graduation, authorities say

LOWELL, Mass. (AP) — A 21-year-old man has been arrested and charged with fatally shooting a 15-year-old girl hours before she was scheduled to attend her middle school graduation in Massachusetts, authorities said. Not guilty pleas were entered in court Tuesday on behalf of Trevor Bady. He was arraigned on charges of of murder, armed […]

4 hours ago

Small, nonthreatening balloon intercepted over Utah by NORAD