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China: Suspected Spy Balloon is ‘Civilian Airship Used for Research, Mainly Meteorological’

China: Suspected Spy Balloon is ‘Civilian Airship Used for Research, Mainly Meteorological’

“Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course.”

The Pentagon has been monitoring a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the Northwest for several days.

China claims it’s a civilian airship that’s conducting weather research. It happened to go off course.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry wrote on its website (emphasis theirs): “The airship is from China. It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes. Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course. The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into US airspace due to force majeure. The Chinese side will continue communicating with the US side and properly handle this unexpected situation caused by force majeure.”

Under international law, “force majeure events are often labeled as ‘acts of god‘ and include both natural and man-made events like fires, floods, storms, war, and labor disputes.”

The balloon is 6,000 miles away from China.

No one has done anything to it. The balloon flew over the Aleutian Islands and Canada before entering U.S. airspace.

The Canadian Department of National Defense also said its monitoring the balloon:

Canadians are safe and Canada is taking steps to ensure the security of its airspace, including the monitoring of a potential second incident.

NORAD, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Department of National Defence, and other partners have been assessing the situation and working in close coordination.

Canada’s intelligence agencies are working with American partners and continue to take all necessary measures to safeguard Canada’s sensitive information from foreign intelligence threats.


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An annoying gas bag that has veered off course? Are we sure it isn’t Biden?

They aren’t going to see anything they couldn’t see on Google Maps.

Don’t we have lasers that could put some holes in this balloon and bring it down?

    Milhouse in reply to MattMusson. | February 3, 2023 at 10:21 am

    We do, but we shouldn’t without evidence that it’s doing something wrong. It seems the Canadian and US authorities are watching it closely and looking for such evidence, and will act if and when they find any.

      I remember as a kid we found a leftover National Weather Service balloon with a radiosonde (had to look that word up) in the pasture. They pop off a few hundred of those a month to get upper atmosphere winds and temp, or at least they did back then. Could get up to 100,000 feet on a good day before the balloon popped and the white plastic box parachuted to the ground with prepaid postage back to NWS for anybody who found it. Seems this could be the same thing, writ large. Particularly since the jet stream went wonky over the last few weeks. Some bureaucrat in China is probably asking, “It went where? Well, maybe they’ll stuff it in a mailbox when it lands.”

      NotCoach in reply to Milhouse. | February 3, 2023 at 10:51 am

      It’s in our airspace without authorization. That’s enough evidence.

        txvet2 in reply to NotCoach. | February 3, 2023 at 11:16 am

        In the early 60’s, a German pilot in a light civilian aircraft got lost and overflew the Czech border. They shot him down. We don’t do stuff like that.

        No, it’s not.

        Milhouse in reply to NotCoach. | February 4, 2023 at 8:27 pm

        No, it isn’t. At that point it could still have been a weather balloon, and in our airspace innocently. The Chinese story was completely plausible, so the right thing to do was to keep watching it and look for evidence that it was not what they said it was, and then shoot it down. Which is what happened.

          NotCoach in reply to Milhouse. | February 5, 2023 at 5:41 am

          This is just so ridiculous. We did shoot it down, and why? Because, optics. What “evidence” was discovered that it wasn’t actually a weather balloon?

          And the thing was not orbital, therefore the assumption is that it is in our airspace. I don’t give a rip about international law. International law has NEVER been applied in situations like this. There are a plethora of attempts to shoot down our high flying spy craft back in the day, and that isn’t considered an act of war. As soon as it was detected it SHOULD have been shot down, period.

      txvet2 in reply to Milhouse. | February 3, 2023 at 10:54 am

      Of course it’s doing something “wrong”. It’s an intel collector. That doesn’t mean that we have to shoot it down. If it’s transmitting, we’re more than likely capable of monitoring its transmissions, and get as much intel on any weaknesses in our defensive/comms posture as the Chinese are.

        Strelnikov in reply to txvet2. | February 3, 2023 at 12:13 pm

        Sure. Then let’s allow them to set up a monitoring base on US soil. Just think of the intel we could get!

          They already do, at every embassy and consulate (just like we do) and probably, at every CCP controlled location in the US (of which there are many).

        Milhouse in reply to txvet2. | February 4, 2023 at 8:28 pm

        At that point we didn’t know it was an intel collector. We suspected it, but that’s not enough to justify shooting it down. The onus is on whoever wants to shoot something to prove that it needs shooting.

      txvet2 in reply to Milhouse. | February 3, 2023 at 10:57 am

      This is silly. People are acting as if this is something strange and unusual. We’ve been doing overflights since the Cold War. Look up the U-2 program and Francis Gary Powers.

        txvet2 in reply to txvet2. | February 3, 2023 at 10:58 am

        Once again, this was supposed to be a free-standing comment, not a response.

          NotCoach in reply to txvet2. | February 3, 2023 at 11:04 am

          Don’t click reply, and scroll to bottom to make your comment.

          txvet2 in reply to txvet2. | February 3, 2023 at 11:12 am

          Yeah, I know that. It’s a problem that occurs when you’re flipping back and forth through a series of comments and you don’t get all the way back out of the string for a new comment. It’s pretty much unique to this website.

        henrybowman in reply to txvet2. | February 3, 2023 at 3:40 pm

        “Look up the U-2 program and Francis Gary Powers.”

          Yes, they did, after he had a malfunction that caused him to lose altitude. There were a lot of flights where they didn’t, because they didn’t have anything that could reach the U-2’s cruising altitude. They had film of Russian jets trying and failing to get high enough to shoot at them. I haven’t claimed that they didn’t. I just said that we don’t (or at least haven’t) done that sort of thing. The point is that intelligence overflights aren’t anything new, they’re just new here. Does that mean that they should shoot down this balloon? Not necessarily. We can gain as much intel from it as they can. Do I care if they shoot it down? Not a bit.

          And it almost started a war. Because he was not in Soviet airspace, but over it.

          Having said that, I would shoot it down, if able (and there’s the rub) just to make the point China needs to tread more carefully.

          GWB: Given that altitude restriction, Powers didn’t actually intrude on Russian airspace until he lost altitude due to the malfunction, right?

          GWB in reply to txvet2. | February 3, 2023 at 4:49 pm

          That is correct. but the ability was the limiting factor there, not the legality, IIRC. It was still an act of war on their part. The problem being that intruding on their airspace (in descent) was also an act of war. The other problem being than an aircraft in distress is allowed to fly wherever he needs, basically. So, it was a mash-up all over.

          My basic point (all over this thread) is that above 60,000 feet is not anyone’s airspace, and so you don’t get to willy-nilly shoot stuff down. But I’m not saying that means we shouldn’t, just that it’s not that simple of an excuse to do so.

      alaskabob in reply to Milhouse. | February 3, 2023 at 12:41 pm

      Ask the Chinese if they want their balloon back….. if yes then we will “retrieve” it.

      If they don’t want it back….. we will “retrieve” it.

      Mt. Fuji in reply to Milhouse. | February 3, 2023 at 1:14 pm

      Seriously? The “air craft” violated US and Canadian airspace without authorization. It does not have IFF I bet so it is a direct threat to airplanes if it does go into lower altitudes.
      When I flew to Jordon along the Syrian border they would track us with SA2 radar you bet that if we flew over the border into their airspace they would have shot us down no questions asked no worries about anyone on the ground no nothing.
      I have seen pics of the “weather balloon” and when is the last time you saw one with solar panels on it? What other equipment is on it? Cameras? Antennas to hoover up SIGINT? and EMP? IF the tables were turned and we had a balloon like that over their territory they would have shot it down, recovered the remains and showed to the world what we were doing. The USA is like “meh”.

        The “air craft” violated US and Canadian airspace without authorization.
        No it likely did not. Our controlled airspace (and the airspace of every other sovereign country around the world) ends at 60,000 feet MSL. So there would be no violation unless it descended out of normal scientific balloon heights.

        IF it did so, I would hope (yeah, maybe a vain one, with this admin) the response would be stronger. (It would also be easier to shoot down, then. There is very little that operates in the realm above 50,000 feet operationally – except balloons and rockets.)

          Mt. Fuji in reply to GWB. | February 3, 2023 at 4:39 pm

          You are talking about class-A airspace, anything above FL600 is uncontrolled airspace, IE ATC services/control stops, but sovereign airspace goes up to space.

      inspectorudy in reply to Milhouse. | February 3, 2023 at 5:55 pm

      Do you mean sorta like our southern border? Let anyone in unless they do something wrong. Wow! Now that’s what I call national sovereignty. How do you propose to find out if it is doing harm? Perhaps shooting it down and inspecting what’s onboard might be a start. Will we allow another one in the future? If this one is a real weather balloon will the next one be a spy version? We will never know any of these things unless we shoot down every one of them as they cross our borders.

Why wasn’t it shot down before we heard about it?

    Milhouse in reply to WTPuck. | February 3, 2023 at 10:22 am

    Because as of now there’s no evidence that it isn’t exactly what China says it is.

      Strelnikov in reply to Milhouse. | February 3, 2023 at 12:15 pm

      And if history has taught us anything, it’s that we can trust the communists.

      henrybowman in reply to Milhouse. | February 3, 2023 at 3:44 pm

      It depends what you mean by “now.”
      The transparent “meteorological research” lie lasted less than six hours.
      Only the flimsiest of 1/4-mil Mylar hats was required to predict this.

      alaskabob in reply to Milhouse. | February 3, 2023 at 6:56 pm

      Remember Belarus shot down a hot air balloon and killed the occupants when they drifted into their airspace? Some countries take incursions seriously.

Could the Chinese have been reading to see what Biden’s reaction to an airspace violation would be?

Like, maybe they were sending up a … (wait for it) … trial balloon?

    p1cunnin in reply to PrincetonAl. | February 3, 2023 at 10:58 am

    Exactly. Can we detect it, and if we do, will we do anything? The next ones contain EMP devices — or the ones they launch when they invade Taiwan will. It appears that our woke military responded to this, but was it quick enough to handle a real threat? No idea when they detected it and at least one person thinks it flew over Alaska and western Canada first. The apparent response was only over Montana.

      Ghostrider in reply to p1cunnin. | February 3, 2023 at 1:45 pm

      Apparently, NORAD and the USAF has known about this for a month.

        Olinser in reply to Ghostrider. | February 3, 2023 at 5:50 pm

        Which makes the ‘well we can’t risk shooting it down’ crap EVEN MORE of a joke.

        They knew it would violate US airspace, and they could have shot it down over the sea with ZERO risk.

        And oh by the way, now its come out that they already know that it’s ‘independently manuverable’, which makes it an INTENTIONAL violation of US airspace.

        This woke regime’s response is an absolute joke and is going to encourage further violations.

    While I concur about what China gets out of this (a reaction baseline), the balloon is not an airspace violation (if it’s up at normal balloon height, above 60,000 feet). Our airspace ends at 60,000 feet Mean Sea Level. (Everybody’s airspace ends there, much like the 12 nautical mile limitation on seas around your country – which China ignores.)

      Mt. Fuji in reply to GWB. | February 4, 2023 at 10:29 am

      Dude, you are WRONG. Class-A airspace goes from FL180 to FL600, that is when air traffic control STOPS, but sovereign airspace goes up to space, so the balloon has violated the sovereign airspaces of 2 countries without permission and needs to be taken down and analyzed for what it was doing.

If not a hazard to air navigstion, how high is too low.?
When Eisenhower was initiating Project Corona with the US first spy satellite , the question was about legality of space overflight ….when Sputnik launched and flew over U.S, then overflights became “legal” .

Can China’s words be trusted? It’s up to them to produce evidence.

Did they say anything when it first strayed, or only wait until it was discovered. Innocence would involve the former, unless there was no way for them to track their balloon, which seems unlikely,

Can’t trust them until they put forward more proof than a statement of regret.

The balloon is used for research, mainly “meteorological”, a Chinese word for “missle silo.”

    GWB in reply to Paula. | February 3, 2023 at 4:06 pm

    Why would they use a balloon for that? They already have reams of satellite data telling them everything they could possibly get about our missile silos.

      inspectorudy in reply to GWB. | February 3, 2023 at 6:02 pm

      Do you speak Chinese? It sounds like you have been attending the CCP meetings and have taken over the role of spokesman for them. What if they are using the old “Crying Wolf” syndrome to lull us into thinking that the CCP is really really concerned with the weather and then one with a large EMP bomb over vital projects below? Or maybe they could send a fleet of them to nail down those pesky weather patterns over the US that really affect their weather in China. Five balloons, which one has the spy camera or bomb?

      Mt. Fuji in reply to GWB. | February 4, 2023 at 10:31 am

      I have seen some speculation that is it using ground penetrating radar looking for underground facilities.

Threats to Domestic & National Security under the Biden Administration

1) Illegal Immigration Southern Border
2) Illegal Immigration Northern Border
3) Cyber Attacks, including Ransom Ware
4) Chinese Purchase of US Farmlands
5) Chinese Spy Balloon Enters US Airspace

Politically, I see a parallel between Carter and Iran hostage crisis and Biden with all 5 above but #5 should make Gonzotx get his wish for Trump.

This last development is reaching an inflection point with many Americans. The Pentagon is reporting they are not going to provide any specifics on the surveillance balloon. It’s now moving eastward over central US at 60,000 feet. Gen Ryder refuses to talk about it intelligence.

This would never happen under Trump.


    txvet2 in reply to Strelnikov. | February 3, 2023 at 2:34 pm

    The further east it gets, the less chance that they’d take a chance on it hitting a populated area (which has been their excuse up to now).

paraphrasing a great movie… Meteorological, they keep using that word. I do not think it means what they think it means.

IMO the question isn’t why they aren’t shooting it down now, it’s why wasn’t it shot down before it crossed into US airspace.

Next question, what altitude has it been operating at as it flew through commercial airline routes over the north Pacific?

    It’s not in US airspace, but likely above it. Our protected/controlled airspace ends at 60,000 feet MSL.
    (No one seems to be interested in stating what altitude it is at.)

      txvet2 in reply to GWB. | February 3, 2023 at 4:20 pm

      I’ve seen reports that it was somewhere around the 60k range.

        GWB in reply to txvet2. | February 3, 2023 at 4:23 pm

        Yes. But it would have helped the admin tremendously if they said something as useful as “It’s currently staying above 60,000 feet, and therefore out of our controlled airspace.”

        Otherwise I’ve not seen articles explicitly give altitude.

          txvet2 in reply to GWB. | February 3, 2023 at 4:39 pm

          It wouldn’t shock me to find out that they didn’t know that our airspace ended at 60K. I certainly didn’t, although back when I was involved, I don’t know if that restriction even existed. For sure, I don’t recall that it was ever mentioned.

          Mt. Fuji in reply to GWB. | February 4, 2023 at 10:31 am

          WRONG AGAIN.

      inspectorudy in reply to GWB. | February 3, 2023 at 6:04 pm

      Still getting your info from the CCP? No one else seems to be able to answer all of the questions as quickly as you. Is that you Hunter?

      Gosport in reply to GWB. | February 3, 2023 at 7:59 pm

      And the U-2 Gary Powers was flying when he was shot down over Russia was at 70,000+ feet.

      There is no clear treaty regarding at what altitude a country’s airspace ceases but a good rule of thumb is that if it ain’t in orbit you don’t fly over another country without permission/coordination.

What would China do if an American balloon appeared over Chinese airspace?

It’s called provocation bait.

We are being invited to shoot it down, so they can in turn start shooting our stuff down citing our earlier provocation.

    GWB in reply to Andy. | February 3, 2023 at 4:03 pm

    This is probably true.

      GWB in reply to GWB. | February 3, 2023 at 4:19 pm

      And I would take that bait. But I would also be more prepared, so….

        Andy in reply to GWB. | February 3, 2023 at 11:02 pm

        ….and your prize will be a balloon on American soil filled with a weaponized virus that didn’t have to fall on US soil.

        While that’d be a win for Fauci, Newsome and Jay Inslee, not so much for the rest of us.

    inspectorudy in reply to Andy. | February 3, 2023 at 6:07 pm

    No Andy, it’s called sticking your toe in the water to see how hot it is. This is a test to see what our reaction would be to an obvious overflight. After the Wuhan virus, I would NEVER believe anything the CCP said!

Don’t shoot it down…launch six to overfly China.
Give it back to them.

One can just imagine what the PRC and North Koreans are thinking.

Joe and Hunter Biden sold us out to the Chinese. The PRC owns the Biden’s.

They watch the US piss away its sovereignty from open borders, BLM, teaching CRT, transgender mania, political corruption, fiscal fraud and abuse to depleting our strategic energy resources and military resources capacities while we borrow money from China.

What Chinese private company isn’t run by Chinese government or officials?

BTW, it’s apparently now down to about 50k feet. There are reports that a couple of private aircraft flying around 45k have reported it.

    Mt. Fuji in reply to txvet2. | February 4, 2023 at 10:32 am

    If it is down to FL500 then it is a navigational hazard in ATC controlled airspace. SHOOT IT DOWN ALREADY!!!!!!!!!!

Well for starters there are no civilian applications like this in China … None … Everything like this is a fusion of civilian/ military use …. Everything