Balloon Intercepted By U.S. Air Force Over Texas

North American Aerospace Defense Command has confirmed that it scrambled aircraft to investigate a suspicious target of interest over Texas.

byHoward Altman, Tyler Rogoway|
E-3 balloon intercept texas


North American Aerospace Defense Command sent fighters, a supporting KC-135 tanker, and an E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning And Control aircraft after a suspicious radar track over southern Texas that was approaching the Gulf Of Mexico.

We started getting word of an intercept operation occurring when radio enthusiasts reported the odd operation underway. The E-3 and the fighter-supporting KC-135 tanker were subsequently spotted on radar tracking software flying orbits in the area in question.

The E-3 Sentry orbiting over the Gulf of Mexico during the intercept operation. (
GASMAN03, a KC-135R support tanker, seen returning to base after staying on station for some time during the evaluation of the object. (

The War Zone then reached out to the Air Force and NORAD, with NORAD giving the following statement prior to publishing it:

"North American Aerospace Defense Command detected an unidentified radar track over south central Texas on Mar. 25 and launched aircraft to visually investigate the situation. NORAD aircraft identified a small airborne object as likely a hobbyist Pico balloon and assessed the object posed no immediate military threat or safety of flight hazard. NORAD will continue to track and monitor the object, and is in close coordination with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to ensure continued flight safety."

A hobbyist Pico balloon is thought to have possibly been at least one of three still officially unidentified objects shot down during a rash of engagements over North America in early February that followed the downing of the large Chinese spy balloon off the U.S. East Coast. Details on the other two objects remain limited, at least from official sources, and no wreckage of the objects was found. Images of them have not been released to the public and congress seems to be largely in the dark as well.

John Greenewald of the received an outright denial of his Freedom Of Information Act Request on national security grounds for any video or imagery taken of the objects.

If anything, this latest incident is a reminder of just how much the air defense posture over the U.S. and Canada has changed in recent weeks since NORAD changed the filters on their radars following the Chinese spy balloon incident. This allowed them to see slow-moving, high-altitude objects that were filtered out automatically by the systems previously. Clearly, intercepts caused by that new data are still ongoing.

In the meantime, President Biden has directed various departments to change the way high-altitude unidentified objects are regulated and tracked, as well as engaged. You can read more about this here.

We will update this story if we get more information.

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