American Defense officials have told the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press that there is “very high confidence” that the Chinese ISR balloon currently drifting over Montana flew over sensitive military sites to collect information. One likely target is the Malmstrom Air Force Base, which operates Minuteman III ICBMs.
Ballons have long been used for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operates due to they ability to operate at high altitudes for long periods of time. This balloon is believed to have entered the United States from Canada after passing through the Aleutian Islands. So far there have been no confirmed plans to down the balloon. Washington is in contact with Beijing over the incident, which may impact Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to China next week.