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Pentagon reveals the contents of Chinese balloon

The Pentagon confirms that despite Beijing’s claims, the balloon contained antennae capable of intercepting communications, forming part of a wider spying network

The Pentagon confirms that despite Beijing’s claims, the balloon contained antennae for intercepting communications, forming part of a wider spying network.
KEVIN LAMARQUEREUTERS

Over the past few weeks, diplomatic relations between China and the United States have been strained over a balloon that was shot down off the South Carolina coast. Beijing expressed regret that what they claim was a weather balloon engaged in scientific research was blown off course.

But Washington isn’t buying that explanation, and having salvaged some of the wreckage of the downed airship, are claiming that it contained antennae capable of intercepting and geolocating communication signals.

Even more worrying, claim the Pentagon, is that this type of balloon has been spotted in the airspace of more than 40 countries on five continents, something which they reported to Congress when investigating a sharp rise in UFO sightings.

In their report, which noted that many of these UFOs were described as globes and drones, the Pentagon warned that they were investigating further to find out if there was any direct involvement of “foreign governments.”

The search is ongoing for the rest of the balloon, with the US Navy using unmanned underwater vehicles to search the ocean floor. The Pentagon adds that the balloon also carried solar panels large enough to generate enough electricity to feed intelligence gathering sensors.

Further, the Pentagon notes that the manufacturer, who they decline to name, maintains close ties to the Chinese military, and have not ruled out taking industrial action against this company. The US Department of State notes that this company’s website shows past flights, presumably over the US and other countries.

The United States is only part of the plan

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, after receiving a visit from the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, clarified that the wreckage of the balloon was being investigated “to learn more about the Chinese surveillance program.” Blinken continued, “We already shared information with dozens of countries around the world, both from Washington and through our embassies. We’re doing so because the United States was not the only target of this broader program, which has violated the sovereignty of countries across five continents.”

One of the examples cited by Blinken took place in Japan, and has been confirmed by the Japanese government spokesperson Hirokazu Matsuno. According to these revelations, one of these balloons has been sighted over Japanese airspace in the southeast region of Kyushu.

In total, there have been four previous balloons of this type which have overflown US airspace, three of which were during the presidency of Donald Trump.

One balloon was sighted in February of 2022, when Major General Kenneth Hara, the Adjutant General of Hawai’i tweeted about a balloon over Kauai. He said U.S. Indo-Pacific Command “detected a high-altitude object floating in air in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands” and sent up aircraft to intercept it. He said they visually confirmed it was an unmanned balloon with no identification markings.

After this preliminary look, the US has been able to draw some conclusions about this balloon. “Last week provided the United States with a unique opportunity to learn a lot more about the Chinese surveillance balloon program, all information that will help us to continue to strengthen our ability to track these kinds of objects,” said Pentagon Press Secretary, Brigadier General Pat Ryder.

“We know that these balloons have been spotted, and what we now can subsequently assess to be Chinese balloons operating over at least five continents in regions like Latin America, South America, Southeast Asia, East Asia and Europe.”