“And because balloons float along high-altitude winds, their paths are less predictable and thus more difficult to track. The balloons are also much cheaper to produce and launch than space-based satellites.”
The Washington Post discovered the Chinese began the spy balloon program years ago off of the country’s south coast:
The surveillance balloon effort, which has operated for several years partly out of Hainan province off China’s south coast, has collected information on military assets in countries and areas of emerging strategic interest to China including Japan, India, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines, according to several U.S. officials, who, like others interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.
Officials have said these surveillance airships, operated in part by the PLA air force, have been spotted over five continents.
“What the Chinese have done is taken an unbelievably old technology, and basically married it with modern communications and observation capabilities” to try to glean intelligence on other nations’ militaries, said one official. “It’s a massive effort.”
Hainan is an island housing the “PLA command and control location.” It’s a naval facility with an airfield.
The balloon in question arrived in America in Alaska on January 28. It traveled over Canada before entering Idaho.
The sources revealed Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman briefed “150 people from about 40 embassies.” The officials also provided details about the spy program “to every U.S. embassy.” They gave the people permission to share the information “with allies and partners.”
U.S. officials have gone more in-depth with the countries targeted by China, such as Japan.
It reminded one Japanese official of an incident in Japan in 2020. People thought they saw a UFO.
“In hindsight people are realizing that was a Chinese espionage balloon,” said the official. “But at that time it was purely novel — nobody had seen this. … So there’s a lot of heightened attention at this time.”
The balloons fly higher than commercial flights, “between 60,000 and 80,000 feet.” Officials don’t know how many balloons China has in the program:
They take advantage of technology provided by a private Chinese company that is part of the country’s civil-military fusion effort — a program by which private companies develop technologies and capabilities used by the PLA.
In a news briefing Saturday, senior Pentagon officials alluded to the PLA program, noting that balloons had been operating elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere. “These balloons are all part of a PRC fleet of balloons developed to conduct surveillance operations, which also violated the sovereignty of other countries,” said one senior defense official.
But why balloons? It actually makes sense:
They can linger over a target for hours, whereas a satellite orbiting Earth may have only minutes to snap a picture of its target. “If you have a balloon that’s moving extremely slowly you have persistence that you can’t get from a satellite,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Charlie “Tuna” Moore, a former fighter pilot who helped run operations out of NORAD and retired in October as deputy of U.S. Cyber Command.
Analysts think the balloons, like drones, can be remotely piloted — at about 30 to 60 mph, said one official. And because balloons float along high-altitude winds, their paths are less predictable and thus more difficult to track. The balloons are also much cheaper to produce and launch than space-based satellites.
Some of the balloons have been launched from China on flight paths that took them around the entire globe, officials said.
We also have images of the spy balloon.DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.