The U.S. Airspace Corrupted by the China-Bashing of 2001 April 1 Phenomenon: What have we Learned?
Editor’s Note: Beth Sanner is a former deputy director of National Intelligence for Mission Integration, a position where she oversaw the elements that coordinate and lead collection, analysis, and program oversight throughout the Intelligence Community. She also worked for the president as an intelligence briefer. She is a professor at the Applied Research Lab for Intelligence and Security at the University of Maryland. The opinions she expresses in this commentary are her own. On CNN, you can view more opinions.
It has been revealed that the balloon that was floating over US airspace was a Chinese spy balloon.
Stepping back a bit, however, the uncomfortable fact is that the Biden Administration’s effort to set “guardrails” on its relationship with China is not working that well. This is mostly because China not only has failed to stop spying, stealing, and exploiting vulnerabilities in the US democratic and open-market system, but is becoming more aggressive than ever. The administration’s actions to hold China accountable for this conduct have threatened core Chinese interests.
The most memorable and instructive example dates back to the presidency of George W. Bush. The Chinese fighter jets harassed the US plane on April 1, 2001. One of them crashed. A damaged plane was regained control of by the pilot and he made an emergency landing on China’s Hainan Island. The 24 US crew members were held for 11 days, and some of them were repeatedly questioned before being released.
Had there been any loss of life, Chinese authorities would have blamed the US immediately and placed both blame and liability on the US. The US Embassy in Beijing and China’s Ambassador to the United States would have been targets of protests.
This timeline of events – previously unreported – helps explain why US defense officials declined to act before the balloon had crossed over US territory. That lack of urgency has become a sharp political flashpoint on Capitol Hill, where some Republicans have criticized the administration for not sounding the alarm sooner.
You can hear the war drums beating, if you pay attention, and I am waiting for the hyperbole to reach new heights so that we can better understand who will be the toughest on China. There is already-dangerous rise in anti-Asian rhetoric and violence reported in the US in recent years, so let’s not allow China- bashing to become a new brand of McCarthyism.
Editor’s Note: Editor’s Note: Peter Bergen is CNN’s national security analyst, a vice president at New America, and a professor of practice at Arizona State University. The views expressed in this commentary are of his own. View more opinion on CNN.
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. He was involved in the project to deploy balloons that carried cameras to the Soviet Union. Turkey launched those spy balloons.
My dad didn’t talk about this part of his career much, likely because the work was secret, but the program has long since been declassified since it happened around seven decades ago.
CNN: The China-Double Espionage Experiment Reveals a Newly Discovered Spherical Blast from Hainan, China
CNN reported this week that the US intelligence community is examining the possibility that the balloon, which lifted off from Hainan, China, in January, did not intend to travel over the continental US but was blown off its path by strong winds. The balloon’s original surveillance target was likely Guam, but the weather may have shifted the balloon northward, officials said.
The United States and its competitors now have spy satellites, which can take photos. They can do a video in full- motion. 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.
You can now buy close-up images of Russian battle groups inUkraine from your own website because the commercial imagery is so cheap. It was just acquired by a private equity firm for $6 billion, and Maxar Technologies built up a profitable business on this model.
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.
A report by the US intelligence community found that of the 163 reported images, a large number of them were balloons or “balloon- like entities.” 26 of them were drones. An unspecified number of sightings were “attributable to sensor irregularities or variances, such as operator or equipment error.”
The Chinese spokesperson also said the U.S. was using warships and planes to gather intelligence on China 657 times since the start of last year. Wang claims that the U.S. is the world’s largest espionage empire and that this proves it.
A State Department official said that the Biden Administration was reaching out to countries directly about the scope of the program and answer any questions.
Fighter jets were able to intercept and shoot down objects in the sky over Alaska and northern Canada after the furor over the Chinese balloon.
One source familiar with the intel and an official with knowledge of the investigation say not all of the balloons being seen around the globe have the same model. People said that there are multiple variations.
The link to the broader surveillance program, which was uncovered before the latest balloon was spotted last week, was first reported by the Washington Post.
The FBI was alerted to the balloon on February 1, the officials said, because the intelligence community had determined that the balloon had an electronic element to it. By late Sunday – the day after the balloon was shot down – agents had arrived at the scene, and the first pieces of recovered evidence arrived at the FBI lab in Quantico on Monday.
The US was able to track the latest balloon’s path even before it entered US airspace. The Defense Intelligence Agency warned that the balloon was headed for the US on January 27, one day before it entered the country over Alaska, officials told CNN.
The biggest unanswered question is China’s intent. China says that the vessel was a weather balloon and that it caused an accident as it sailed over the United States. Officials have acknowledged that this type of balloon has only limited steering capabilities and largely rode the jet stream.
In regards to the three objects shot down in the US air space, President Joe Biden said that there was no indication that they were tied to the Chinese spy balloon program.
This elite team consists of agents, analysts, engineers and scientists, who are responsible for both creating technical surveillance measures and analyzing those of the US’ adversaries.
OTD personnel, for example, construct surveillance devices used by FBI and intelligence community personnel targeting national security threats — but they also are responsible for managing court-authorized data collection and work to defeat efforts by foreign intelligence agencies to penetrate the US.
But, according to one member of the House Intelligence Committee, “there’s number of reasons why we wouldn’t do that. We want to collect off it, you want to see where it’s going and what it’s doing.
A defense official has said the US has procedures in place to protect sensitive locations from overflight.
The High-Altitude Survey Balloon Mission Over the United States: A Test of American Independence and the Role of China in the Invasion of Ukraine
It’s premature to tell how the meeting will affect the relationship between the US and China. Biden said he would speak with China’s leader but wouldn’t apologize for shooting the balloon down.
A clear message was sent that the violation of our sovereignty was unacceptable, when Biden shot down the balloon. We did what we could to protect our country.
Biden administration officials have stressed that the meeting was not canceled, but instead delayed until a later date. That date has not yet been set.
Biden officials expressed the belief that both the senior leadership of the People’s Liberation Army and Chinese Communist Party, including Xi, were also unaware of the balloon mission over the US, and that China is still trying to figure out how this happened, a source familiar with the Thursday briefing to Congress told CNN.
Biden administration officials have maintained that they could mitigate the intelligence gathering capacity of the balloon and have countered that they would benefit from the ability to glean information from the balloon and Chinese intelligence capabilities after it has fallen into the Atlantic Ocean.
The chamber will vote Thursday on a resolution condemning the Chinese Communist Party’s use of a high-altitude surveillance balloon over the United States territory as a brazen violation of United States sovereignty, according to Steve Scalise’s office.
Republicans have criticized Biden for waiting several days before shooting the balloon down, and Sen. Marco Rubio said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that the president waiting to tell Americans about the balloon was a “dereliction of duty.”
He said that he shared with Xi an observation that the US had made about China not supporting Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.
Footprint of a New Detection of an Intrusive Chinese Spyball on the Atlantic Ocean: Safety Concerns for the United States
The US Navy released photos Tuesday of its recovery effort of a suspected Chinese spy balloon, which US fighter jets shot down over the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday.
The size of the payload has been labeled by NORAD as a ” jet airliner-type of size, maybe a regional jet,” which is at least 2,000 pounds.
“[F]rom a safety standpoint, picture yourself with large debris weighing hundreds if not thousands of pounds falling out of the sky. That’s really what we’re kind of talking about,” VanHerck said on Monday. Potentially hazardous material, such as material that is required for a batteries to operate in such an environment, as well as the potential for explosives to destroy the balloon that could have been present, was found off of solar panels.
“[T]his gave us the opportunity to assess what they were actually doing, what kind of capabilities existed on the balloon, what kind of transmission capabilities existed, and I think you’ll see in the future that that time frame was well worth its value to collect over,” VanHerck said.
The balloon was ultimately shot down on Saturday afternoon by a single missile from a F-22 fighter jet out of Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. The operation was carried out by active duty, Reserve, National Guard, and civilian personnel, according to the Navy’s photo captions.
News of the intrusive Chinese balloon touched off alerts in the U.S. and beyond. China responded to the Pentagon’s report that a similar balloon had been spotted over Latin America by saying it was an isolated incident caused by force majeure, meaning events beyond the country’s control.
The alternative in this scenario – that Xi was aware that a balloon was being dispatched over the United States ahead of a visit from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Beijing – would raise a separate set of concerns about China’s decision-making in relation to the US.
She declined to comment on the equipment on board the balloon and the entities that own the balloon. Chinese statements suggest that the balloon wasn’t operated by a government entity, but was linked to more than one company. It has not named them.
Mao Ngan said that China is a responsible country. We have always followed international law. We have informed all relevant parties and appropriately handled the situation, which did not pose any threats to any countries.”
There’s no indication at this point that the unidentified objects have any connection to China’s surveillance balloon but it seems that national security officials across the continent remain on edge. Airspace was briefly closed over Montana before being quickly reopened on Saturday evening after a radar anomaly prompted a jet to investigate before an all clear was given.
The report – also known as a “tipper” – was disseminated through classified channels accessible across the US government. Top defense and intelligence officials were not alarmed by it, according to sources. The White House was not briefed on the report and Vice President Joe Biden wasn’t told about it, according to sources.
The US looked at the object as an opportunity to observe and collect intel rather than treating it as an immediate threat.
Deputy Secretary of State to the Cabinet Office on Capitol Hill: Why the Obama-Like Balloon Did Not Arrive until January 31
But senior Biden officials faced pointed questions on Capitol Hill from lawmakers in public hearings and classified briefings as Congress is demanding more information about why the balloon wasn’t shot down sooner.
NORAD sent fighter jets to identify a balloon after it entered US airspace near Alaska, according to defense officials.
There was no reason for officials to be alarmed by the balloon. At the time, according to US officials, this balloon was expected to sail over Alaska and continue on a northern trajectory that intelligence and military officials could track and study.
Military officials said it is not necessarily surprising that the president was not briefed until January 31, given the expectations for the balloon at the time.
As more information about the administration’s decision-making process on the balloon has continued to trickle out, Congress has taken a keen interest.
A Senate Republican aide said there were still questions to be asked about Alaska. “Alaska is still part of the United States – why is that okay to transit Alaska without telling anyone, but [the continental US] is different?”
The U-2 pilot took a selfies of the shadow of the aircraft on the balloon and a clear image of the balloon as he crossed the United States. CNN first reported the existence of the selfie.
The Biden administration has determined that the Chinese balloon was operating with electronic surveillance technology capable of monitoring US communications, according to the official.
Lawmakers were told Thursday that the order to send the balloon was dispatched without Chinese President Xi Jinping’s knowledge, sources familiar with the briefing said.
House Select Committee Briefing on the Investigation of the Naval Surveillance of the Ocean: Defense Secretary Jon Tester and Sen. Marjorie Taylor Greene
The officials who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity said the U.S. has only collected materials on the ocean’s surface so far.
Gen.Glenn VanHerck, the commander of NORAD and the US Northern Command, stated on Monday that they had not examined the collection hazard beyond what is already seen by the Chinese.
The House briefing Thursday morning was tense, the sources said, with several Republicans railing against the administration, including GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who said that the Pentagon made the president – whom she noted she doesn’t like – look weak by their actions.
“The Pentagon was telling us they were able to mitigate in real-time as this was taking place and I believe that’s accurate,” Rep. Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat, told CNN.”I believe the preeminent concern they had, as they expressed in real time, was the safety of US citizens.”
“I believe that the administration, the president, our military and intelligence agencies, acted skillfully and with care. At the same time, their capabilities are extraordinarily impressive. Was everything done 100% correctly? I can’t imagine that would be the case of almost anything we do. Romney said Thursday that he came away more confident.
Senators pushed defense officials at an Appropriations Committee hearing on Thursday over the military’s assessment of the Chinese surveillance, with Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana telling officials that he did not know how they could unequivocally say it was not a military threat.
You have to help me understand why the baby wasn’t taken out before and because I am telling you that it isn’t the last time. We’ve [seen] brief incursions, now we’ve seen a long incursion, what happens next?,” said Tester, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee.
U.S. Coast Guard Investigation of the alleged China spy balloon shot down off the South Carolina coast: An update on alleged spy balloon activity out of the Atlantic
The balloon gathering intelligence over Alaska was not considered a problem by the Pentagon as it was not near sensitive sites.
The US military says crews using salvaged equipment have recovered elements of the Chinese balloon shot down off the South Carolina coast 10 days ago.
It’s not yet clear where the balloon’s parts were manufactured, the officials said, including whether any of the pieces were made in America. Because analysts have yet to look at the bulk of the equipment on the balloon, the officials said that there has not been a determination as to everything the device was capable of doing and its specific intent.
Analysts found nothing that posed a danger to the American public in the sample they examined.
There was English writing on parts of the balloon that were found, one of the sources familiar with the congressional briefings said, though they were not high-tech components. The source declined to provide detail on what specific parts of the balloon contained English writing.
The official said they have no explanation for why the second balloon violated the airspace of Central and South American countries. It will be difficult for the PRC to use the program as it will continue to be exposed.
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.
The main electronics payload, however, has not been recovered yet, one of the FBI officials said, adding that it was “very early” to assess what the intent was and how the device was operating.
The shooting down of an altitude-high-altitude object over Alaska by U.S. fighter jets and missiles from Joint Base Elmendorf
“That narrative is probably part of the information and public opinion warfare the U.S. has waged on China,” Mao added. “As to who is the world’s number one country of spying, eavesdropping and surveillance, that is plainly visible to the international community.”
And the government is investing in improvements, too. 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.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said the U.S. military shot down a high-altitude object over Alaska.
An F-22 fighter jet from Joint Base Elmendorf in Alaska took down the object “at 1:45 p.m. eastern standard time today, within US sovereign airspace over US territorial water,” Pentagon press secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters on Friday.
The object was tracked over Alaska at an altitude of 40,000 feet over the past 24 hours, Kirby told reporters at the White House briefing. It was deemed to pose a “reasonable threat to the safety of civilian flights” and “out of an abundance of caution” Biden ordered it to be shot down at the recommendation of Pentagon leaders, Kirby said.
There were two efforts to get closer to the object and evaluate it as it flew. The first engagement by fighter aircraft took place late Thursday night and the second Friday morning. Kirby told reporters that both engagements yielded limited information.
“We were able to get some fighter aircrafts up and around it before the order to shoot it down, and the pilots assessment was this was not manned,” Kirby added.
On Saturday, a US F-22 warplane operating on the joint orders of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Biden fired a missile that took down an object flying at 40,000 feet over central Yukon in the far north of Canada. The Canadian Defence Minister described the object as small as a Chinese balloon.
The Alaska Command of the US Northern Command coordinated the operation with assistance from the Alaska Air National Guard, Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
What can the Deadhorse mission teach us about the Chinese government and how the US approach to China has changed in the past, and what does it tell us now?
“We’re calling this an object because that’s the best description we have right now. 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 came to the attention of the US government. The Pentagon had enough information to inform Biden as soon as possible.
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 on Friday after the military took action against the object.
“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 assessment was communicated to American lawmakers in briefings Thursday, according to CNN reporting – and if true, could point to what analysts say would be a significant lack of coordination within the Chinese system at a fraught period of China-US relations.
It could mean that Beijing and the US underestimated the damage the mission would cause and that it could endanger the planned visit by the most senior US diplomat since the beginning of the year.
In China the prominence of state-owned enterprises and a robust military industrial complex blurs the line between the government and military, though Beijing appears to link the device to companies.
Drew Thompson said that the situation could have been worsened by the level of power wielded by Xi, since he entered his third term atop the Communist Party.
That means that lower-level officials who may have the capacity to more closely monitor such missions may not be empowered to do so, or not be equipped to make political judgments about their impact, he said. Communication may be complicated by power struggles between the lower and higher ranking officials.
“There is a tension throughout the Chinese system – it’s a feature of Chinese governance, where lower levels fight for their own autonomy, and upper levels fight for greater control,” he said.
In the past, China has seen conflicts that have been pointed to as having slowed the response and compounded the problem, including the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SRS) in 2002-2003, and more recently Covid-19. Some blamed local officials who were used to a system where information flowed from the top down, not the bottom up.
There’s a possibility that ballooning operations may fall into a gap in which they are not managed in the same way as space or aircraft flights, according to a University of Chicago political scientist.
In this case, entities launching balloons may have received “little or no push back from other countries, including the United States” and “increasingly seen such launches as routine based on weather conditions and at modest costs,” Yang said.
It was likely that the leaders of these programs were not given top priority attention from the standpoint of political risk, because they become emboldened over time to test new routes.
US Foreign Ministry Reaction Following the G20 Summit: A Case Study of a Suspected Chinese Spy Balloon Shot Down over Alaska
China’s Foreign Ministry appeared caught off-guard by the situation as it publicly unfolded over the past week – releasing its first explanation of the incident more than 12 hours after the Pentagon announced it was tracking a suspected surveillance balloon.
“Because of his personality, he wants 100% (control),” said Alfred Wu, an associate professor, also at the NUS Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. I don’t think that is possible.
The postponement of the talks may have been a result of the US domestic response but it was an incident that diverted the attention of the public frustrated by the faltering economy after the zero-covid policy was dismantled.
Washington may be trying to convince Xi that he was unaware of the situation as it tries to continue the dialogue that started at the G20 summit in Indonesia.
US officials announce that an object was shot down 10 miles off the frozen coast of Alaska, but there are few details about the object.
At the beginning of the month, US government officials said that the Chinese spy balloon was roughly the size of three buses. Meanwhile, US Defense Department officials said the UFO the US shot down on Friday was likely not a balloon and was roughly the size of a small car. The object that was shot down by Canada’s prime minister was described by officials as cylindrical and less than a balloon. The object that was shot down on Sunday didn’t seem to have anything, US officials said.
The object did not appear to have any surveillance equipment, according to a US official, which would make it both smaller and likely less sophisticated than the Chinese balloon shot.
All but one of those objects have been described as smaller than the balloon that caused the uproar. Speaking to reporters on Monday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that while recovery operations for those objects were ongoing, but no debris had been recovered yet.
Recovery teams are 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.”
Five Years of Unidentified Airborne Objects in the United States, and First Detection of a Triple Shot Down over Lake Huron
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.
The FBI will be working closely with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, according to the statement.
Pilots gave different accounts of what they observed after coming near the object, a source briefed on the intelligence told CNN; some pilots said it “interfered with their sensors,” but other pilots said they didn’t experience that.
The number of reported UFOs increased from March to August in the year 2022, mostly by US Navy and Air Force pilots and personnel. There were almost twice as manyufo reports in the 17 year period between 2004 to 2021.
hearings should be held to find out what is going on. There is a right to understand why objects are flying around in American airspace, even if the Pentagon and the US intelligence community cannot identify them.
A deepening national security mystery is threatening a political storm after US fighter jets scrambled three days in a row to shoot down a trio of unidentified aerial objects high over the North American continent.
The intrigue is also unfolding against a tense global situation, with already difficult relations with rising superpower China becoming ever more hostile and with the US leading the West in an effective proxy war against Russia in Ukraine.
In the last two weeks or so, 10 days, there has been nothing short of craziness, according to Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana.
Officials also disclosed that the object that was shot down over Lake Huron was first detected in Southern Alberta. Canadian officials added that out of an abundance of caution, they have deployed investigators with explosives, chemical, biological and radiological expertise.
NORAD and the US Northern Command have taken against airborne objects over US airspace before but recent objects shot down are probably the first.
Two Unknown Aerial Objects shot down over Alaska and the Yukon: New Pressure on the U.S. Senate, the Black-Tie Event, and the Post-Newtonian Biden-Biden
It’s possible that in a unique, fast-moving situation, the government may not know much more than it is saying. The emergence of details adds to the confusion. The administration has tried to control the media narrative of its own political problems, such as the discovery of the Chinese balloon and Biden’s home and office.
CNN was briefed by a source that NORAD recently adjusted its filters to better identify targets above a certain altitude, which may be the reason why additional objects have been detected in recent days.
The lack of specificity is unlikely to quell speculation or partisan maneuvering in Washington. At the start of a new presidential election cycle and in a polarized political age when social media magnifies conspiracy theories, this odd series of incidents is heaping fresh pressure on Biden following recriminations after his decision to wait until the Chinese balloon had crossed the country before shooting it down over water.
Representative Mike Turner of Ohio told Jake Tapper on CNN that he would prefer the administration to be permissive, but that they were going to have to see if this is just the administration trying to change headlines.
Such speculation may be premature. Biden changed his tolerance threshold for unknown aerial objects because of the political debate.
Biden has yet to speak with Americans about the incidents that happened over the weekend, as he did not address them at a black-tie event with state governors on Saturday.
The president directed his team to come up with sharper rules for dealing with unknown objects, which will distinguish between those that will likely pose a safety and security risk and those that will not. The parameters will be shared with Congress once they are finished.
They are getting a lot of positives that they didn’t get before. Kayyem was a former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.
“What we can’t answer now is, is this bigger aperture picking up lots of stuff that has essentially been forgiven, around in the skies, because it didn’t pose a threat, or is it part of something organized for whatever surveillance?”
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.
If there is a connection between the Chinese balloon and the latest objects that have been spotted, it’s because Rep. MattRosendale of Montana made that connection on CNN on Sunday.
The Three Downed Objects That We Have Learned to Know about the Interagency Review of the U.S. Air Force
“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 for myself as well as for the American people.
That term – “objects” – is deliberately vague with regard to the three objects downed since Friday. Nobody knows who these things belong to or what they are.
The White House separately reassured Americans that there is no indication of aliens or extraterrestrial activity, according to their press secretary.
He also suggested the downed objects posed no immediate threat, were not sending communications signals, showed no signs of “maneuvering or had any propulsion capabilities” and were not manned.
Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan is conducting the interagency review and is likely to have “a set of parameters” for making decisions about how to handle the kinds of objects shot down by U.S. fighter jets in the past several days, Kirby said.
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.
The source said that filters were only adjusted and widened in the past week, after a high- altitude, suspected Chinese spy balloon transited the US sparking a debate over the United States’ ability to detect and defend against threats to its airspace.
The story of Sanner – the aliens, the spy, the spilor… all the threats that the US has to offer
Half of the total is labeled as balloon or balloon-like entities. Others act like drones. And a few appear to be nothing more than “airborne debris like plastic bags.”
The man is Sanner. There was a lot of discussion when we first started looking at this in 2021, that these were aliens. I think people have pulled back since then and said that most of the things can be explained. But to me, these stories really come together, right?
Because the things that pilots have been seeing – and many times were discouraged from talking about, there was a stigma with that – they could very well be spy or other kinds of threats. It is important that these things are out there.
SANNER: These are things that are easy to do. This is very low tech. It makes us vulnerable, really. … The cruise missile threat has been overlooked for decades in regards to defense of the continental United States.
We’ve invested in ballistic missile defense, but not in 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. We might not see it if it comes from south of Alaska.
The technology gap is due to the fact that most of our radars are from the 1980s. At that time, our processors don’t have the ability to look through that much material, which is why the filters are used. We had to use filters to find threats that are similar to the ones we think are threats.
Two liars in a pants on fire moment: The U.S. counterintelligence mission as well as the FBI and the FBI
SANNER: We’re in a liar, liar, pants on fire moment here. You know, I think that the Chinese are going to make up things in order to cover their own 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.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory in Virginia has previously recovered surface and sub surface debris that were used for counterintelligence. The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard have left the area. Air and maritime safety perimeters have been lifted,” the statement added.
“Then the right partners, whether they are international partners or researchers here from the United States, have to be assembled to participate in what we call the exploitation of that technology, of the equipment.
“All of that takes time. I have no doubt that we will understand the full scope of what these things are, and what they are capable of, but it might not be quickly.”
While there has been plenty of criticism of the Biden administration for not communicating about these incidents more effectively, there is bipartisan support for shooting the objects down.
The threat to American security and safety: A response to the congressional briefing on a threat to the American people and to the air space, said Secretary of State John Kirby
It shows that we have to tell the world we are going to defend our airspace. And then we need to invest,” added Turner. Some of the problems and gaps are shown here. We have to fill them as soon as possible because we know there is a threat.
Biden emphasized that there was no evidence to show a sudden increase in the number of objects in the sky. And although the most recent three objects appear to have been benign, Biden warned, “If any object presents a threat to the safety and security of the American people, I will take it down.”
“The intelligence community’s considering as a leading explanation that these could just be balloons tied to some commercial or benign purpose,” John Kirby, the strategic communication coordinator at the National Security Council, said Tuesday.
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.
Romney said that a lot of things are up in the air, including commercial, government and some things he didn’t know about.
The process of picking up fallen debris is something that officials acknowledge could take some time.
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.
Kirby said that the Chinese spy balloon debris recovery off the coast of South Carolina earlier this month was hampered by high seas in the Atlantic Ocean due to the time of year.
Kirby said the government relied on information and expertise from the Federal Aviation Administration and the intelligence community.
What Do We Know About High-Altitude Airborne Objects? When Did President Biden Come Around to Tell Them About The Search Area?
Trudeau said the search area was large and dense in the wilderness. Other Canadian officials were candid about how difficult it is to recover debris from high-altitude objects shot down.
“We are working very hard to locate them, but there’s no guarantee that we will. Sean McGillis, a spokesman for the organization said that the terrain in the Whitehorse area is tough and the marine conditions are not good at the moment.
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.
Echoing other officials, Biden doubled down that there is nothing right now that suggests that the other three objects are related to China’s spy balloon program or that they were surveillance vehicles from any other country. The objects shot down were most likely connected to private companies.
The recent series of events was ripe for conspiracy theories as officials were especially sensitive to the inherently mysterious nature of the airborne objects.
One official conceded that there was a chance that a conspiracies would grow due to the lack of information.
And officials had been wary of having the president speak publicly about the objects until more information was gathered about the three unidentified objects that were downed last weekend.
Administration officials say they aim to give as much information as possible, but the situation isn’t great for effective communication.
Biden himself has expressed a desire to be as transparent as possible about the devices with both Congress and the American public, according to officials, but the president has acknowledged that without a full picture of what the objects were, his ability to communicate on them is limited.
It would be a good idea for Biden to speak to the public given the situation is ripe for conspiracy theories, according to one lawmaker who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
How Unidentified Aircraft Becomes a Spyball: The U.S. after the February 4, 2021, 2022, Shootdown
The US government tracks a number of balloons in its air space, researchers say, so it’s the latter. The US Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a January report, for example, tracking incidents involving UFOs, which the US government calls Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena or UAPs. Between March 5, 2021, and August 30, 2022, the All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office had 247 reports of UAPs. The ODNI said that 163 were balloons or balloon-like entities, and 26 were drones, and six were attributed to chaos. So, not all UFOs are balloons, and not all unidentified balloons are spy balloons.
“This isn’t new; we haven’t been detecting them before” says Tannehill, a senior technical analyst at the RAND Corporation. “I suspect that filters on US systems had previously been ignoring things that were too slow, high, or small to be considered threats. Since the parameters on the filters have been adjusted, we are seeing more of what used to be.
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 U.S. blew the balloon out of the sky on Feb. 4, a day after it had flown over a large part of the country.
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.
According to John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, the council would have new guidance in the next few days on how the US government should treat unidentified aerial objects.
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.
Feb. 9: The U.S. briefs diplomats from 40 countries about the Chinese balloon it shot down. On Capitol Hill, both chambers of Congress receive classified briefings on the incident. The House voted unanimously against China’s alleged surveillance of the U.S.
Emily reported from Taiwan. The reporter was from Washington, D.C. Vincent Ni and Padmananda Rama contributed to this report from Washington, D.C.
The highly anticipated meeting took place in Munich, Germany, while both attended the Munich Security Conference, according to Ned Price, a spokesperson for the State Department. At a time when tensions between the two nations are high, the meeting comes at an opportune time.
The Pentagon is keeping an eye on spy-balloons: Do we have airborne objects in our skies? — A response to Ryder
Asked earlier this month whether the Chinese government is “controlling the movement of the balloon, or is it just floating with air streams,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder declined to comment in detail.
“The balloon went over many of them. It, in some cases, loitered,” he added. We took precautions to protect that information. We took measures to get information about the balloon. And I think we’ll know more when we … actually get the remains.”
The administration will be putting into place an improved inventory of snoozing airborne objects above American airspace, taking other steps to detect them, and updating rules for encounters with these types of objects in US skies.
The Pentagon and the State Department have briefed lawmakers about the initial Chinese spy balloon in recent days.
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry announces a Chinese Weather Balloon landing on a TAIPEI island: “We’re going to see what they can tell us about them,” said Biden
The military advised against it being shot down over land because of its size. It was the size of multiple school buses and it posed a risk to people on the ground if it was shot down where people lived,” he said. “Instead, we tracked it closely, we analyzed its capabilities and we learned more about how it operates. Because we knew its path, we were able to protect sensitive sites against collection. We waited until it was safely over water, which would not only protect civilians, but also enable us to recover substantial components for further analytics.”
Biden said there was no evidence of an increase in objects in the sky. “We are just seeing more of them partially because of the steps we have taken to narrow our radars and we have to keep adapting our approach to dealing with these challenges.”
The president said that on Friday, the U.S. put restrictions on six firms that directly support the Chinese army and aerospace program, denying them access to U.S. technology.
The intelligence community is assessing all three incidences. Biden said “they’re reporting to him daily and will continue the urgent efforts to do so and I will communicate that to the Congress.”
Susan Collins said in an interview with All Things Considered that she did not think the Biden administration’s all-Senate classified briefings were very informative.
I don’t think the administration has been transparent. Now, to be fair to the administration, they are still gathering information. Collins wants the administration to be more forthcoming once they have recovered some of the debris from the crashed plane.
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s Defense Ministry says a Chinese weather balloon landed on one of its outlying islands, amid U.S. accusations that such craft have been dispatched worldwide to spy on Washington and its allies.
The ministry’s statement on Thursday said the balloon carried equipment registered to a state-owned electronics company in the northern city of Taiyuan.
Taiwan’s Air Identification Zone and the Taiwan Strait: The Story of a High-stakes Balloon Launching from Taiwan
China regularly sends military aircraft and warships into Taiwan air identification zone and across the middle line of the Taiwan Strait. That has prompted Taiwan to boost military purchases from the U.S., expand domestic production of local planes, submarines and fighting ships, and extend compulsory military service for all males.
A publicity officer at the company said that the electronics had been provided and that it hadn’t built the balloon.
The China Meteorological Administration was one of the companies that provided equipment to, according to the spokesman.
He said that it was likely that the balloon was on its way from the coastal city of Xiamen with no fixed course.
It was likely deflation because it had reached the maximum altitude of around 30,000 meters. The Taiwan Strait is regularly visited by such balloons, but they have only begun to draw attention recently.
The information on the equipment in Taiwan was written in Taiwanese characters, but it was written in simplified Chinese characters on the mainland.
Washington is Taiwan’s closest military and diplomatic ally, despite a lack of formal ties, which were cut in 1979. Beijing protests strongly over contacts between the island and the US but its diplomacy has helped build bipartisan support for the island.
On Thursday, President Joe Biden said the U.S. is developing “sharper rules” to track, monitor and potentially shoot down unknown aerial objects, following three weeks of high-stakes drama sparked by the discovery of a suspected Chinese spy balloon transiting much of the country.
How Did the Union Balloons Drift During the Siege of Yorktown, Virginia, About the Realenemy Is The W
Generals were put at risk, diplomatic relations were strained and millions of dollars of sensitive equipment was ruined. And despite it all, nations just don’t seem to be able to let go of their balloons.
The love affair with balloons started long before airplanes took flight. As early as 1794, the French army operated balloons during the Battle of Fleurus in combat against the Austrians. During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln created the U.S. Army Balloon Corps to surveil the enemy.
When you’re fighting a war, perspective matters, says Tom D. Crouch, an emeritus curator at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. It’s always good to be able to see as much as you can behind the enemy lines.
There has been a wind that has commented on where balloons fly. On April 11, 1862, during the Siege of Yorktown, Virginia, a balloon carrying a Union general named Fitz John Porter came unlatched and began drifting towards the Confederate position. Marksmen took a few potshots at the bobbing general as he floated over the enemy, Crouch says. The winds shifted, and they blew back over the Union lines.
Researchers used new, lightweight materials such as mylar to create balloons that could travel near the edge of space. That technology, together with electronics and remote cameras meant that uncrewed balloons could potentially drift across enemy territory, providing views that, at the time, were unavailable any other way.
“You would take special cameras, attach them to high-altitude balloons, set them adrift in Western Europe and let them drift over the Soviet Union,” says Stephen Schwartz, a non-resident senior fellow at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
Schwartz says the goal was to collect intelligence on Soviet nuclear weapons. He says that if any useful information was available, it would have been helpful when there was a fear of a Soviet Union attack.
The Success of Project Genetrix and the U.S. Recovery After the High-Energy, Low-Surface, Collapse of the Eisenhower Document
In the end, President Dwight D. Eisenhower decided that the balloon program wasn’t worth the headaches, and Project Genetrix ended almost as quickly as it began.
“It was essentially a disaster,” Schwartz says. The wind was to blame again, as you had no idea where the balloons were going, so it was just hit or miss.
The Genetrix balloons weren’t very stealthy, because they were disorganized. He said that the U.S. intelligence was hoping that the Soviets would not notice. “That didn’t happen.”
The Air Force briefly tried to solve the problems with still more balloons. “They launched them in very large numbers, hoping that a significant number would get through,” Crouch says.
The recovery effort ended after US Northern Command successfully located and retrieved debris from the balloon.
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.”
It’sunlikely the public will get a thorough explanation of what objects were that the US fighters shot down over a three day period.
National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby suggested as much at a White House press briefing on Friday, telling reporters, “We would like nothing better, but I can’t sit here and promise you that we’ll get to that level of fidelity of detail.”
“We are concerned about the wrongdoing of the people’s republic of China with the use of high-altitude surveillance balloons” in U.S. territorial airspace
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.
It will be very difficult to find them and it will be even harder to find the debris that can be used for forensic identification. So I can’t promise you that we’ll know definitively one way or the other,” he added.
In a U.S. summary of the meeting in Munich, Price said Blinken “directly spoke to the unacceptable violation of U.S. sovereignty and international law by the [People’s Republic of China] high-altitude surveillance balloon in U.S. territorial airspace, underscoring that this irresponsible act must never again occur.”
In an interview with CBS news, Blinken said China was “considering providing lethal support to Russia” – a red line for Washington. Blinken said such a decision would have “serious consequences that would have for our relationship.”
Chinese state-owned Xinhua News Agency reported the Blinken-Wang meeting was “requested by the U.S. side.” The China Global TV Network said that Wang told them China’s position on the so-called airship incident in an informal conversation.
CGTN also said Wang “urged the U.S. side to change course, acknowledge and repair the damage that its excessive use of force caused to China-U.S. relations.”
The original intent was not positive, but we saw it attempt to surveil very sensitive military sites in the United States, so that doesn’t matter, according to Tony Blinken.
The US has started to see disturbing trendlines of late in China’s support for Russia’s military, and there are indications that Beijing wants to give lethal military assistance to Russia without being caught, according to US.
The officials would not say what intelligence they had seen suggesting a change in Chinese posture, but said that US officials had shared it with allies and partners over the past several days.
The concern that we have now is based on information that they could provide lethal support and we need to make it very clear to them that it would cause a problem in our relationship.
The Air Force recommends the wear of a full pressure suit on high-altitude glider planes: the U-2 example of an astronaut-like aircraft
The U-2 is a single-seat, high-altitude reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft with “glider-like characteristics,” according to the Air Force. Because the planes are regularly “flown at altitudes over 70,000 feet,” pilots “must wear a full pressure suit similar to those worn by astronauts.”