Chinese spy balloon gathered intel from sensitive US military sites and transmitted them to Beijing in real-time: Reports
Back in February, the US military shot down the alleged Chinese surveillance balloon over the Atlantic Ocean off the Eastern Seaboard of South Carolina at the order of President Joe Biden. Two months later, we now have more details about the alleged purpose of the spy balloon.
While Beijing has long claimed that the unmanned civilian airship that strayed over sensitive American military installations was benign and accidentally off course, an intelligence report obtained by NBC suggests otherwise. NBC reported on Monday that:
“The Chinese spy balloon that flew across the U.S. was able to gather intelligence from several sensitive American military sites, despite the Biden administration’s efforts to block it from doing so, according to two current senior U.S. officials and one former senior administration official.”
“The intelligence China collected was mostly from electronic signals, which can be picked up from weapons systems or include communications from base personnel,” NBC reported.
However, one key question that remains unanswered revolved around the capability of the balloon’s collection technology to transmit real-time information to the Chinese government. At the time of the event, there was considerable conjecture that physical retrieval of the device would be necessary to access any data it had gathered.
But US officials now claimed that Beijing did receive information in real-time. However, there’s no way to confirm the authenticity of this report, just like other reports that came out of US intelligence agencies in the past three years.
“China was able to control the balloon so it could make multiple passes over some of the sites (at times flying figure eight formations) and transmit the information it collected back to Beijing in real time, the three officials said,” the report underscores.
“The intelligence China collected was mostly from electronic signals, which can be picked up from weapons systems or include communications from base personnel, rather than images,” NBC News reported, citing US officials.
The officials also added that it “could have been activated remotely by China,” but also explained that “it’s not clear if that didn’t happen because the mechanism malfunctioned or because China decided not to trigger it.”
On February 4, US fighter jets shot down the giant balloon off the coast of Carolina after it traversed sensitive military sites in North America. The suspected spy balloon was first spotted in the sky over Montana earlier in the week and traveled across the middle of the country following weather patterns before it exited the continental United States on Saturday.
The US military has shot down the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon over the Atlantic Ocean off the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, a US official said Saturday.
Before being shot down, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had issued a ground stop for airports in Wilmington, North Carolina, and Charleston and Myrtle Beach South Carolina. The FAA also restricted airspace near Myrtle Beach “to support the Defense Department in a national security effort.”