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USA. State Department: The Chinese balloon was equipped with spy equipment and was part of a global program

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A senior State Department official said the Chinese balloon that flew over the United States was equipped with spyware and was part of a global intelligence-gathering program in more than 40 countries on five continents. The official also said that the balloon company has ties to the Chinese military and could be subject to sanctions.

United States consider taking action against PRC entities associated with the People’s Liberation Army that supported the balloon incursion into US airspace. (…) We are sure that the manufacturer of the balloon has direct relations with the Chinese military and is an approved supplier of the AL-W (People’s Liberation Army), the official said in a statement to journalists.

Chinese hot air balloon shot down over USA. Washington Post: The military knows how useful balloons can be

Balloons with electromagnetic reconnaissance capabilities

He added that the Chinese balloon’s flight was part of a global spy balloon program that violated the airspace of more than 40 countries on five continents. He also noted that the images of the balloon acquired by U-2 reconnaissance aircraft proved that these balloons had electromagnetic reconnaissance capabilities.

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Chinese balloon shot down over US territorial watersReuters

Balloon’s ability to retrieve information rated “low to moderate”

The fact that – contrary to Beijing’s claims – the balloon was equipped with equipment to obtain sensitive information was also said by officials Pentagon during a hearing before the Senate Budget Committee, pointing, among other things, to the antennas they had.

Responding to the frustration expressed by politicians of both parties about the balloon being shot down too late, however, General Douglas Sims noted that the Pentagon assessed the balloon’s ability to obtain information as “low to moderate”, while the risk of possible harm to civilians in the event of if the balloon were shot over the ground was rated as “moderate to significant” due to the difficulty of predicting exactly where the debris would fall. Officials also argued that in the water it is easier to recover parts of the balloon.

The Pentagon’s deputy assistant chief for Indo-Pacific affairs Jedidiah Royal also admitted that the US does not know for sure what exactly China they wanted to achieve by flying the balloon. However, General Sims assessed that while balloon flights have some advantages in terms of obtaining information – due to the possibility of hovering over a specific target – they are “very small” compared to the capabilities of satellites in low Earth orbit.

Main photo source: US NAVY/DVIDS/PAP/EPA

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