Last week, three F-22 Raptor stealth fighters were sent to intercept a strange spherical balloon-like object of unknown origin off the Hawaiian Islands.
The U.S. military and the Federal Aviation Administration are still tracking it in the Eastern Pacific. The Pentagon said they do not believe it is “controlled by a foreign or adversarial actor” and that it has not posed a threat.
The incident started on Friday, April 28, when a C-17 was asked to divert to investigate something near Hawaii. The F-22s were then launched to visually identify the object, which turned out to be a spherical balloon floating at about 36,000 feet. The balloon did not transit over any sensitive sites or pose a physical threat to people on the ground.
“U.S. Indo-Pacific Command responded to an unidentified radar signature Friday in the vicinity of the island of Hawaii,” a spokesman for the Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) told The War Zone.
“Pacific Air Forces launched three F-22s to assess the situation and visually identified a spherical object. We monitored the transit of the object and assessed that it posed no threat. ”
“As a part of our normal daily operations, we closely track all vessels and aircraft in the Indo-Pacific area of operations through a combination of joint capabilities to protect the U.S. homeland, support our Allies and partners and secure a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
The outlet also spoke to a Department of Defense spokesman who said:
“The Department of Defense and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) detected and observed April 28th an unmanned, balloon off the coast of Hawaii, floating at approximately 36,000 feet.”
“Ownership of the balloon is unknown, but there is no indication that it was maneuvering or being controlled by a foreign or adversarial actor.”
The ownership and purpose of the balloon are unknown, but it is not the first time that a mysterious balloon has been detected near Hawaii.
In February, another balloon was intercepted by F-22s off the coast of Kauai. That balloon was later identified as a Chinese spy balloon that had drifted from the Midwest.
Balloon incidents are not uncommon in the U.S., as they can be used for various purposes such as weather monitoring, scientific research, or surveillance.
However, they can also cause confusion and concern for air traffic control and national security. The U.S. military and the FAA are working together to monitor and evaluate any unidentified balloons that may enter U.S. airspace.
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