A Conversation With Tom Bergen About the Air Force’s First Flight Over the Grand Unified Air Force Base and His Mission to the United States
Peter Bergen is CNN’s national security analyst, a vice president at New America and a professor of practice at Arizona State University. Bergen is the author of a book about the Trump administration. The views expressed in this commentary are of his own. CNN has more opinion on it.
And it reminded me that when my father, Tom Bergen, was a lieutenant in the US Air Force in the mid-1950s, he worked on a program to help send balloons into Soviet airspace.
In 1954 he was assigned to Headquarters Air Material Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. There he worked on the “Grand Union” project, which deployed balloons that carried cameras over the then-Soviet Union. Those spy balloons were launched from Turkey.
The program my father worked on was a secret, but has since been declassified and he didn’t talk about it much.
The Blast of the Balloon Launch: Why the US Defense Department Doesn’t Need More Satellite Information to Identify Anomalies
Any intelligence suggesting that the balloon’s path into the US may have been unintentional could ease tensions between Washington and Beijing and may offer both countries a way out of what has become an increasingly tense diplomatic crisis.
The US and its competitors have spied satellites which can take photos. They have the skills to do full- motion video. They can take thermal imagery that detects individuals moving around at night! When the skies are clear, they can spy on pretty much anything, with a resolution of centimeters.
Commercial satellite imagery is getting so cheap, you can buy your own close up images of a Russian battle group in Ukraine. Two months ago a private equity firm bought Maxar Technologies, a business that was built up on this model, for $6 billion.
The two objects did not closely resemblance the PRC balloon shot down last week, according to the US Defense Department. There are signs that federal lawmakers may get incomplete information from military and local authorities that could cause more confusion.
But it may help explain, at least in part, an element of a little-noticed report published by the US Office of Director of National Intelligence last month.
The US Navy and US Air Force personnel have reported several unknown objects in the sky in the past two decades. The Pentagon has an office that tries to investigate unexplained phenomena, the All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office.
The alleged China spy balloon: What has the US done so far? A State Department official spoke on anonymity to discuss the case of the F-35 case
But China has arguably done much worse. According to US officials, it was aided by the work ofhackers who stole design data about the F-35 fighter aircraft as China builds their own new generation of fighters, and it also lost a lot of personal information of 20 million Americans who were currently or formerly in the US government. The F-35 theft report was dismissed as base and China denied its responsibility for the OPM hacking.
As U.S. Navy crews continue to fish parts of the alleged Chinese spy balloon out of the Atlantic, a senior State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, gave reporters an update on Thursday on some of what has been learned so far.
It is not clear what intelligence the US has gleaned that has made officials consider it a credible possibility that the balloon’s overall trajectory may have been at least partly accidental. The US intelligence community is also closely scrutinizing which elements of the Chinese government ordered and approved the balloon’s mission.
The officials, who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity, said the U.S. has only collected materials that were on the ocean’s surface so far, including the balloon canopy, some wiring and a “very small amount of electronics.”
One FBI official said it was too early to determine the intent of the device and how it was operating.
Wang said that it shows the U.S. is the world’s largest spy empire. The U.S. National Security Council denies the allegations.
She wouldn’t say if the equipment on the balloon was state of the art or not. The balloon was linked to one or more companies and not a government entity, as has been implied by Chinese statements. They have not been named.
Improvements are also being made by the government. In 2018, for example, China launched a project to research materials that can be used to make balloons that can float higher without losing buoyancy.
The US was able to track the latest balloon’s path even before it entered US airspace. The balloon was headed to the US one day before it entered the country over Alaska, according to officials.
China accused the United States of flying spy balloons into its airspace more than 10 times without Beijing’s permission.
Later on Saturday, the White House confirmed that Trudeau and US President Joe Biden authorized the shoot-down and the Pentagon said the object was first spotted over Alaska on Friday evening.
In the first instance in which U.S. Northern Command took action against an airborne object in the U.S. airspace, fighter jets shot down four high altitude objects this month.
A statement from Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said the object shot down on Saturday was first noticed over Alaska on Friday evening. Two F-22 fighter jets monitored an object with the assistance of the Alaska Air National Guard to get a sense of its nature.
Kirby said during the White House press briefing that a high altitude object posed a reasonable threat to the safety of civilian flight.
There were attempts to evaluate the object as it flew. The first engagement by fighter aircraft took place late Thursday night and the second Friday morning. Both engagements yielded “limited” information, Kirby told reporters.
The order to shoot it down came after we got some fighter planes up and around it, and the pilots assessed it was not manned.
The document stated that the US and Canadian officials were attempting to identify debris after the object was shot down. Canadian officials are leading that investigation, though the FBI was embedded with them, according to the memo.
US Northern Command’s Alaska Command coordinated the operation with assistance from the Alaska Air National Guard, Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ryder said.
The Story of the Alaskan Object Shot Down by the Pentagon and Its Implications for the Recovery of Debris from the Balloons
The best description we have right now is why we are calling this an object. We don’t know who owns it – whether it’s state-owned or corporate-owned or privately-owned, we just don’t know,” Kirby said.
The object first came to the attention of the US government “last evening.” Biden was first briefed Thursday night “as soon as the Pentagon had enough information,” Kirby said.
The object “did not appear to be self-maneuvering, and therefore, (was) at the mercy of prevailing winds,” making it “much less predictable,” said Kirby.
The FAA restricted flights in the area around Deadhorse, as the military took action against the object.
The balloon’s appearance and the US shooting down other unknown objects in the sky has renewed criticism in Washington from Republicans who accuse Biden of not acting quickly enough or providing enough transparency.
The president has stood by his administration and how they handled the balloon, however, he has been criticized for allowing the balloon to fly over a large swath of the country before it was shot down.
“Given its size, which was much smaller, and the capabilities on the fighter aircraft themselves, the speed at which they were flying, it was difficult for the pilots to glean a whole lot of information,” he said.
The object wasshot down by the Pentagon at 1:45 p.m. Gen. Patrick Ryder.
The Canadian Defense Minister said at a news conference on Saturday that the object appeared to be smaller than the Chinese balloon that was shot down.
The disclosures seemed designed to put to rest ongoing speculation about the origins of the balloons, the remnants of which are still waiting to be collected by investigators. Administration officials have increasingly cast doubt on their ability to fully recover debris from the objects, given tough conditions where they landed.
Ryder said on Friday that recovery teams have “mapped the debris field” and are “in the process of searching for and identifying debris on the ocean floor.”
When asked Friday if lessons learned about China’s balloon assisted in detecting the object shot down over Alaska, Ryder said it was “a little bit of apples and oranges.”
The FBI and Royal Canadian Mounted Police will be working closely while Canadian authorities conduct recovery operations.
Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand tweeted Saturday that she had discussed the incident with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “and reaffirmed that we’ll always defend our sovereignty together.”
The Insight into the U.S. from the Emerging China Maritime Investigation of a Possible Flying Object that Reported to Rizhao
The balloon crossed intoAlaska, Canada and then downward into the US through Idaho and may have been determined by strong winds, rather than deliberate maneuvering by Beijing, according to US officials.
Officials said that the risk of intelligence collection against the US was low, while the risk to people and property on the ground, if the balloon were to be shot down over the US, was high given the balloon’s size and weight.
“Recovery activities are occurring on sea ice,” the statement said. “We have no further details at this time about the object, including its capabilities, purpose, or origin.”
US President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau both approved the shoot down on Saturday, according to a statement from the White House.
A source briefed on the intelligence said that some pilots gave differing accounts of what they saw, but other pilots didn’t have that experience.
CNN has an update on the country’s rise every week in their Meanwhile in China newsletter. Sign up here.
State-run news outlet The Paper reported the maritime authorities in China said that they were ready to shoot down a flying object that was spotted in the waters near the port city of Rizhao.
The maritime authorities in the port city of Qingdao told fishing vessels to be on alert so as to not endanger themselves and to help with debris recovery efforts.
“If debris falls near your boat, please help take photos to collect evidence. In a message given to The Paper, the marine development department of the Jimo district said that if conditions allow, please help save it.
As of Monday afternoon local time, Chinese authorities and state media had not provided any update, and it is unclear if the object has already been taken down.
The tensions between China and the U.S are getting worse. The U.S. imposed sanctions on six Chinese companies that it said are assisting Beijing with military spy activities.
The recent attack on the unknown crafts was just a week after the public’s successful pursuit and downing of the Chinese balloon suspected of carrying out espionage. Now, the thin details trickling out of the Pentagon and Capitol Hill about are making an already highly unusual international episode even more bizarre and confusing.
A political storm is threatening after US fighter jets shot down a trio of unknown objects over the North American continent.
In addition, the intrigue is unfolding against a tense global situation, with the US leading the West in an effective proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, while China begins to become more hostile.
Jon Tester of Montana, a Democrat, said on the CBS show that things have been “nothing short of crazy” in the last 10 days.
Unlike in the Cold War, pilots of US jets were not usually sent to shoot down objects over the US and Canada. It’s not normal for Americans to settle down for the Super Bowl with their president firing off orders to blast unknown objects out of the North American sky.
According to the NORAD commander, recent objects shot down are the first time NORAD or the US Northern Command had taken against an airborne object.
Why is the Chinese Balloon and the Vice Presidential Office Shooting Down? The Politics of Biden’s “State of the Union”
It’s possible that in a unique, fast-moving situation, the government may not know much more than it is saying. The piecemeal emergence of details is adding to the confusion. On issues including the Chinese balloon and the discovery of classified vice presidential documents at Biden’s home and office, the administration has sometimes struggled to control a media narrative to its own political detriment.
One reason why additional “objects” have been detected by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in recent days could be because the command recently readjusted its filters to better spot slow-moving targets operating above a certain altitude, a source briefed on the matter told CNN.
How is the political impact of this string of incidents? Biden was criticized by Republicans for citing the possibility of injury to civilians or damage to buildings on the ground for waiting so long to shoot down the Chinese balloon earlier this month. In his State of the Union address, he said he would defend US sovereignty. His aides have made his response to the incidents as decisive as that of the commander in chief. The White House knows the political peril in waiting if Americans saw that he wasn’t doing everything to defend the homeland.
The political blame game is heating up. Turner said on CNN that Republican claims of Biden not adequately protecting the southern border were linked to the incursions of US air space. And he also adopted a novel critique of Biden given claims that the president didn’t act quickly enough before.
Mike Turner of Ohio told Jake Tapper on CNN that he wants them to be triggered-happy instead of being permissive, and that they will have to see if this is just the administration trying to change headlines.
The Three Black-tie Events Over the weekend: Biden’s Associated Airborne and Hispanic Intruders Revisited
Biden did not speak to Americans in person about the three incidents over the weekend, at a black-tie event for state governors on Saturday.
The president said he has directed his team to devise “sharper rules for how we will deal with these unidentified objects moving forward, distinguishing between those that are likely to pose safety and security risks that necessitate action and those that do not.” When they’re finished, those classified parameters will be shared with Congress.
“They are getting lots of positives that they did not get before. Most of that is going to be airplanes, whatever it may be,” said Kayyem, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.
Is this bigger thing picking up stuff that has already been forgiven around in the skies because it didn’t pose a threat, or is it something more organized for some kind of espionage?
There was more confusion on Sunday. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said on ABC’s “This Week” that the two objects shot down over Alaska and the Yukon were balloons but smaller than the original Chinese intruder, after saying he had earlier been briefed by Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser.
The Republican congressman from Montana appeared to link the Chinese balloon and the newest objects on CNN’s news show, even if there is no confirmation that they are connected.
Detection of a High-Altitude Airborne Object from a U.S. Naval Base in response to the Lake Huron Shootdown
“It doesn’t give me much safe feelings knowing that these devices are smaller,” he said. “I am very concerned with the cumulative data that is being collected. … I need some answers, and the American people need answers.”
Biden emphasized that there hasn’t been evidence to suggest “a sudden increase in the number of objects in the sky.” Biden warned that if any object presents a threat to the safety and security of the American people, he will take it down.
The shootdowns came during a period of heightened concern over national security and espionage. A balloon floating in U.S. airspace led to the search for potential threats in the skies.
“There is no – again, no indication – of aliens or extraterrestrial activity with these recent take-downs,” she said. All of you knew that, so I wanted to make sure that the American people knew that. We have been hearing a lot about it, so it was important that we say that from here.
Enhanced radar techniques are believed to be one of the reasons it can be attributed.
A senior U.S. defense official told reporters the large invaders was part of a “fleet of balloons developed to conduct surveillance operations, which have also violated the sovereignty of other countries.”
Some of the gates have been adjusted to give us better fidelity in seeing smaller objects. “You can also filter out by altitude. And so, with some adjustments, we’ve been able to get a better a categorization of radar tracks now. That’s the reason I think you’re seeing these overall.
When U.S. officials describe these incidents, they often use language that’s purposefully vague, such as “high altitude airborne objects.” It’s an attempt to be accurate while still reporting preliminary data, but the approach can be interesting and it also leads to public speculation.
US Coast Guard ships were deployed to search the site in Lake Huron where the third object was shot down, and the Pentagon memo said no additional information was available about the description of that object.
He said that he hadn’t ruled out anything. We continue to assess all threat or potential threats unknown to North America with an attempt to identify them.
The downing of a UAP near Myrtle Beach, S.C., by a high-capacity hovercraft
“We call them objects for a reason,” VanHerck said. And while the initial incident involved a balloon, he added, “These are objects. I am not able to categorize how they stay aloft. It could be a type of balloon inside of a structure or it could be something else. They’re able to stay aloft.
Location and altitude: The balloon famously crossed much of the continental U.S. before being shot down over the Atlantic Ocean, near Myrtle Beach, S.C. It was flying between 60,000 and 65,000 feet.
It was described as an octagonal structure with strings hanging off but had no discernable purposes, said a senior Biden administration official.
The reason given was that it wasn’t really a military threat to anything on the ground, and that it was a safety flight hazard.
“This object is reminiscent of the one shot down off the coast of South Carolina, in size and shape, and it is likely to be small,” said Canadian Defense Minister Adnan Ananda.
The balloon was equipped with a GPS module, a transmitter, a tiny computer and a small solar panel package. Its total weight was only about half an ounce according to a post about the launch.
On Thursday morning, a U.S. Navy Landing Craft Air Cushion — basically a high-capacity hovercraft — parked on a beach to retrieve a range of supplies and food for the crew, from fresh produce to Chick-Fil-A and a birthday cake, local paper The Sun News reports.
According to the military, if you look for UAPs, you will find them floating in US skies.
Three objects were downed over the course of five days, with the word “objects” deliberately vague. Nobody knows who the things are or where they come from.
“I don’t think the American people need to worry about aliens with respect to these craft. Period. There’s nothing more to be said on that,” said John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, at a White House briefing Monday.
He said that the downed objects posed no immediate threat, that they were not sending communications signals and that the objects were not manned.
Biden ordered Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, to lead an ” interagency team” to review the U.S. procedures after the shooting down of the Chinese balloon.
The Mystery Objects in Sky What Matters: Beth Sanner and the Congressman, the U.S. Embassy, and other foreign invaders
Those intercepted over Alaska and northern Canada, she said, had balloon-like features with small cylindrical metal objects attached, and they were flying at around 40,000 feet.
A source said that the filters were only changed a week ago after the US saw a Chinese spy balloon transit its airspace, sparking a debate about the American ability to detect and defend against threatening objects.
CNN interviewed Beth Sanner, who is a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, on Monday.
SanNER is the person. There was a lot of discussion about these being aliens when we first started looking at them. Most of these things probably can be explained, I think, since then. The stories really come together, right?
The stigma of being a spy or other kinds of threats was because pilots have been seeing things that they were discouraged from talking about. So it’s important to get these things out there.
SANNER: These things aren’t that hard to do. This is low-tech technology. And it brings up our vulnerabilities, really. Is that right? The defense of the continental United States has been neglected for decades, in terms of this kind of aerial threat, cruise missile threat.
We’ve invested in missile defense but not this. And so, that might be a secret to all of us, but it’s not to the US military, and the Biden administration actually put money into the budget this year to start looking at this.
But we have a big gap. We have a gap geographically – we’re really only focused toward anything coming over the North Pole. But if something comes in south of Alaska, we might not see it.
Most of our radars are from the 1980s, so we have a technology gap. Our processors, which are attached to the radars, do not have the capacity to look through that much material. And so we had to filter it to identify threats that look like things we recognize as threats.
The Sanner, pants on fire, and the U.S.-China border raid on the Pb+Pb collision at Bel Air Force Base Camp
There is a Sanner. We are in a liar, pants on fire moment here. I think the Chinese are going to make up things to cover their tracks.
It could take some time to figure out what these objects were, according to Andrew McCabe, a CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI deputy director.
“Final pieces of debris are being transferred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory in Virginia for counterintelligence exploitation, as has occurred with the previous surface and subsurface debris recovered. The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard have left the area. Air and maritime safety perimeters have been lifted,” the statement added.
International partners or researchers from the US will need to be assembled to exploit that technology in order to be a good partner.
It takes a long time. I have no doubt that we will be able to comprehend everything, but it might take a bit more time.
The Biden administration has faced much criticism for not communicating more effectively, but there is bipartisan support for shooting the objects down.
How Do We Know if the Shoot-Down Balloons Revisited? Reply to CNN Sen. Jason Crow on February 14
“What I think this shows, which is probably more important to our policy discussion here, is that we really have to declare that we’re going to defend our airspace. And then we need to invest,” added Turner. “This shows some of the problems and gaps that we have. We need to fill those as soon as possible because we certainly now ascertain there is a threat.”
A defense official told CNN late Monday that the Pentagon has not sent an official memo to Capitol Hill but acknowledged they are continuing to brief and send correspondence to relevant committees.
February 14: The U.S. military says it has recovered key sensors from the downed Chinese balloon. Senators receive a classified briefing on the unidentified objects, with members of both parties leaving the briefing saying they are assured that the spate of unidentified floating objects shot down by U.S. jets in recent days do not pose an immediate threat to Americans. Some people think that the public should be told more after a classified presentation by Biden administration officials.
Lawmakers and congressional aides told CNN that the consecutive shoot-downs felt on the surface like an overcorrection to the Chinese spy balloon incident, though they cautioned that it was still too early to say definitively.
We are actually looking for these with increased vigilance. We are looking for them in different ways. We’re starting to see them in different ways,” Colorado Democratic Rep. Jason Crow said on “CNN This Morning” on Monday.
Most of the sensors that we were looking for did not look like balloons. Now, of course, we’re looking for them. Himes said they were probably finding more stuff.
Schumer and Kirby: President Biden waited too long to shoot down a high-altitude object hovering over American airspace
A spokesman for Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate is holding a secret meeting on shot down objects.
The White House on Monday denied that President Joe Biden’s recent swift actions to take down high-altitude objects identified hovering over American airspace were the result of political pressure, following earlier critiques that he waited too long to make the call to shoot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon.
“These were decisions based purely and simply on what was in the best interest of the American people,” National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said Monday.
A defense official said that the radar used by North American Aerospace Defense Command was adjusted after the initial high-altitude balloon sighting. We won’t stop refining detection settings because we have identified these small objects, an official said.
CNN found a memo sent to Capitol Hill from the White House’s legislative affairs office which said they were trying to find what was left of objects to understand them.
The first missile that was fired by an F-16 fighter jet did not hit the target, three people briefed on the matter told CNN.
The Pentagon and White House had not previously disclosed that the first missile did not strike the target, but NORTHCOM and NORAD Commander Gen. Glen VanHerck told reporters on Sunday that acquiring and targeting the object was difficult because of its small size.
The pilots opted to use short-range AIM-9X Sidewinders, which are capable of seeing the heat contrast between an object and the surrounding area. The first missile was unable to hit its target. It is unclear what happened to the missile.
The Discovery of the Chinese Spy Balloons: a White House Comment on the High-Altitude Objects Abducted by the Air Force
The White House sought to assure everyone that the objects did not come from outer space or a hostile state. On Tuesday, the top White House official suggested they weren’t that bad.
John Kirby, the strategic communication assistant at the NSC, said that the intelligence community is looking at the balloons as being tied to a benign purpose.
On Capitol Hill, senators emerging from a classified briefing on the objects said they were reassured after hearing from administration officials that the objects posed no threat to the American people.
There are a lot of things that are up in the air from time to time, and maybe there are some things we don’t know.
“Crews have been able to recover significant debris from the site, including all of the priority sensor and electronics pieces identified as well as large sections of the structure,” U.S. Northern Command said.
So far, those efforts have been hampered by what he described as “pretty tough conditions,” exacerbated by the geographic challenges on Lake Huron, in the Yukon wilderness and on sea ice north of Alaska.
The time of year is difficult and the Chinese spy balloon debris recovery off the coast of South Carolina was hampered by high seas in the Atlantic Ocean, according to Kirby.
Kirby said the government was relying instead on information and expertise from the Federal Aviation Administration and the intelligence community to glean what they could about the mysterious airborne devices.
One administration official said the government is leaning as much as possible on the US intelligence community to assess the objects. The objects that were shot down, as well as observations by US military pilots, are being studied.
Trudeau said that the search area in Yukon was a large area in the wilderness. Other Canadian officials were candid Monday about the difficult task of recovering debris from high-altitude objects shot down over Canada and the US.
There is no guarantee that we will locate them. The terrain in the Yukon is rather treacherous right now so it could pose some significant challenges to us in in terms of our recovery efforts the same could be said about what’s taking place in Lake Huron, the marine conditions are also not conducive at the moment,” said Sean McGillis, a spokesperson for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The Recovery of a UFO from Outer Space: When Did President Biden Tell Them? He Responds by Explaining the “Censorship Letter”
But in the briefing filled with unanswered questions, one statement from White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was as definitive as anything else: The US military had not shot down any UFOs from outer space.
“Everyone wants answers that no one has at the moment,” one official said, conceding there was a risk with the void of information that conspiracies could sprout.
The president had to speak about the objects, until more information was gathered about the three downed objects.
Administration officials still want to give as much information as they can, but the circumstances are less than ideal for effective communication.
Biden wants to be as transparent as possible with both the Congress and the American public, though the president knows that without a full picture of what the objects were, his ability to communicate is limited.
One lawmaker on the House Foreign Affairs Committee told CNN that it would be wise for Biden to speak to the public as the situation was ripe for conspiracy theories.
The recovery operation has included the use of a crane to bring up large pieces of the airship, which was kept aloft by a balloon estimated to be up to 200 feet tall.
The payload’s size has been categorized by Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command or NORAD, as “a jet airliner type of size, maybe a regional jet,” weighing more than 2,000 pounds.
The U.S. has dismissed that explanation emphatically — most notably by blowing the balloon out of the sky on Feb. 4, after it had soared over much of the continental U.S.
Even before that shootdown, analysts urged the Biden administration not to allow the craft to return to China — both to limit the data it might convey, and to allow the U.S. to gain its own insights by recovering the equipment.
News of the intrusive Chinese balloon touched off alerts in the U.S. and beyond. When the Pentagon reported that a high-altitude balloon had been identified over Latin America, China said it was another research balloon that was badly off course, meaning events beyond the country’s control.
Brief Report from Washington, D.C. on the U.S. and China’s Unidentified Aerial Object Cases
As for how the U.S. will handle cases of unidentified aerial objects objects in the future, Kirby said on Tuesday that the National Security Council likely will present new guidance by the end of the week.
Both the U.S. and China have traded fiery allegations of extensive aerial surveillance programs and injecting a new source of distrust and animosity between the two countries.
Beijing’s apology comes less than 24 hours before Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s scheduled travel to Beijing to meet China’s top leader, Xi Jinping. The trip was canceled by Washington. China responds by saying no such trip had even been announced.
China admits that another high-altitude balloon, spotted over Latin America, belongs to it and that it is conducting weather research.
The U.S. tells diplomats from around the world about the Chinese balloon shoot down. On Capitol Hill both chambers of congress get briefed on the incident. The House passes a unanimous resolution condemning China’s alleged espionage.
Emily reported from Taiwan. Lexie was in Washington, D.C. Vincent Ni and Padmananda Rama contributed to this report from Washington, D.C.
“I’m sorry, I am sorry, but I can’t do that”: Taiwan’s First High-Energy Spy Balloon
Biden said shooting down the balloon showed that the violation of our sovereignty was unacceptable. We will act to protect our country.
Blinken and Wang will both attend the Munich Security Conference this weekend. US officials said a meeting between the two is not currently planned but have not fully ruled out the possibility.
He wouldn’t get into any specific intelligence we may have. “Again, we know this is a Chinese balloon and that it has the ability to maneuver, but I’ll just leave it at that.”
Specifically, the administration will be establishing an improved inventory of unmanned airborne objects above American airspace, implementing further measures to detect the objects, update rules and regulations for encounters with these types of objects above US skies, and establishing common global norms for similar encounters.
Lawmakers have been briefed on the initial Chinese spy balloon in recent days by officials from the Pentagon, State Department and intelligence community.
The ministry’s statement on Thursday said the balloon carried equipment registered to a state-owned electronics company in the northern city of Taiyuan.
Chinese military aircraft and warships are often sent across the middle of the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan has decided to boost military purchases from the United States, expand domestic production of local planes and ships, and extend compulsory military service to all males.
Taiyuan Wireless (Radio) First Factory Ltd.: The discovery of a possible Chinese spy balloon last week and the pursuit of three unknown aerial objects shot down over North America
A publicity officer at the company, identified in the report as Taiyuan Wireless (Radio) First Factory Ltd., said that they had not built the balloon, but that they had provided electronics.
The spokesperson, who gave only his surname, Liu, said Taiyuan was among a number of companies that provided equipment to the China Meteorological Administration.
The balloon was likely among those launched daily to monitor weather and was probably set off from the coastal city of Xiamen with no fixed course, he said.
It was deflation likely because it had reached a maximum altitude of over 100,000 feet. He said that balloons regularly fly over the Taiwan Strait, but have recently begun to draw attention.
Information on the equipment was written in the simplified Chinese characters used on the mainland rather than the traditional on Taiwan, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said.
Washington is Taiwan’s closest military and diplomatic ally, despite a lack of formal ties, which were cut in 1979. Capitol Hill has strong bipartisan backing for Taipei, because of Beijing’s aggressive diplomacy and strong protest over contacts between the island and the US.
Following three weeks of high-stakes drama caused by the discovery of a possible Chinese spy balloon, President Joe Biden said the U.S. is developing sharper rules to track, monitor and possibly shoot down unknown aerial objects.
The recovery of the suspected Chinese spy balloon that was shot down on the South Carolina coast earlier in the month is over, as well as the search for flying objects it eventually downed off the coast of Alaska and Lake Michigan after days of fruitless searches.
NORTHCOM said in a statement later in the day that it would end the search for two of the three objects shot down over North America last weekend, stating that”the US military, federal agencies, and Canadian partners conducted systematic searches of each area using a variety of capabilities, including airborne imagery and sensors, surface sensors and inspections, and subsurface scans, and did not locate the debris.”
The failed search efforts make it increasingly unlikely the public will receive a thorough explanation of what the objects were that US fighters had shot down over three consecutive days.
John Kirby, a National Security Council communications advisor, told reporters at a White House press briefing on Friday that the administration would like nothing better but that they wouldn’t be able to promise that level of detail.
Kirby and the F-22 shot down by the U.S. Air Force jet: there is no trace of the unidentified object that fell into Lake Huron
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Kirby said, have been unable to find the object downed in the Yukon territory and the Canadians have decided not to look for the object that fell into Lake Huron.
“So pretty tough conditions, going to be very difficult to find them, let alone once you find that debris be able to do the forensics to identify it. So I can’t promise you that we’ll know definitively one way or the other,” he added.
The club said no part of the object shot down by the US Air Force jet has been recovered. “Until that happens and that object is confirmed to be an identifiable pico balloon, any assertions or claims that our balloon was involved in that incident are not supported by facts.”
The Biden administration said on Friday that it cannot confirm any reports potentially identifying the objects that were shot down, citing ongoing investigations.
In the days since, speculation has grown over the possibility that the U.S. Air Force shot down the 32-inch silver Mylar balloon. On Friday, the NIBBB posted a statement saying there is presently no connection between its balloon and the unidentified object shot down by the F-22 last weekend.
The Illinois club used a tracking website to follow the K9 YO-15, as indicated by the names of the people who were using it. The tool also gives a forecast of a wandering balloon’s likely path.
When K9YO-15 was predicted to go from Alaska to the Yukon, we didn’t know if it would be picked up. But we knew the moment that the intercept was reported, whose it was and which one it was.”
The Bottle Cap Balloon Club, a Non-Relativistic, Long-Range, Ultra-High-Energy, Volcanic, Solar-Powered Blast-Balloon, and “Up
The FBI talked to the balloon club from their understanding, according to a NORAD spokesman.
Representatives from the FBI and NORAD told NPR on Friday that they have no new information to provide, with the FBI saying that “the overall recovery operation is ongoing.”
The BottleCap balloon club named K9YO-15 after the movie “Up” which features both balloons and a bottle cap.
Its journey began with a launch from Libertyville, Ill., on Oct. 10, 2022. It had been one of the club’s longest-flying balloons and had flown around the world seven times in 123 days.
The club noted that it was normal for balloons to lose touch. They said that it is not unusual for a period of time between received transmissions to go missing.
After they’re launched, the balloons expand as they climb, swelling until the Mylar envelope pressurizes. They stop rising at altitudes where the air density is equal to the balloon’s density. The pico balloons “just float the same way a fish bladder or a submarine does underneath the water,” Bowen said.
One thing that might make a pico balloon hard to shoot down, Bowen said, is its small size. “The entire thing that the balloon lifts is a business card-sized circuit board and two little tissue paper-thin solar cells,” he said.
The balloons are pressurized just below the point of popping. They’ll pop, if you hit them with turbulence. If they get hit with a sonic boom from nearby, absolutely going to pop. Those are the easiest ways to pop them.”
One explanation is that the balloon’s GPS pings require solar power. At higher latitudes in wintertime — like the recent path of K9YO-15 — the tiny solar panels can struggle to receive enough sunlight to power the balloon’s lightweight systems.
Balloon enthusiasts say they’re happy to see so much interest in their hobby. And they’re hoping to be able to keep pursuing it, even if the U.S. and other countries adopt new rules.
“It’s fun to see a little robot wandering the planet”, a pedagogical response of a high-school student
“These are often used by the students at school”,he said. “The amateurs who have figured this out have gone to schools to get them excited about science and engineering, and the kids just love the ability to see their little robot creature wandering the planet.”