A Chinese spy balloon was discovered hovering over American territory in late January and early February this year. The balloon, which had been floating across the country for more than a week, was ultimately shot down by a US Air Force F-22 fighter jet off the coast of South Carolina.
What Happened: During its journey, the U.S. intelligence officials were discreetly tracking the spy balloon, learning that it was utilizing the services of a U.S.-based internet provider to navigate and transmit information back to China.
To protect the identities of its sources, the name of the internet company has not been disclosed, NBC News stated.
Reports suggested the Biden Administration had sought a court order allowing intelligence agencies to surveil the balloon as it traversed U.S. territory.
While it remained uncertain whether the order was granted, intelligence was purportedly gathered during the balloon’s journey, encompassing communications exchanged with China through the U.S.-based internet provider.
The spy balloon, christened Killeen-23 by officials, embarked on its journey from Alaska and Canada before reaching the South Carolina coast, where it was intercepted.
Throughout its flight, it allegedly transmitted real-time intelligence concerning U.S. military installations to Beijing, potentially encompassing communications among personnel and signals from weapons systems.
Leaked Pentagon documents subsequently revealed the balloon might have been equipped with surveillance technology, possibly employing synthetic aperture radar to craft high-resolution images.
However, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington Liu Pengyu has said it was a weather balloon that accidentally drifted into American airspace.
“As we had made it clear before, the airship, used for meteorological research, unintentionally drifted into U.S. because of the westerlies and its limited self-steering capability,” Liu told the news outlet. “The facts are clear.”
This content was partially produced with the help of AI tools and was reviewed and published by Benzinga editors.
Photo: Illustration of a Chinese balloon, Shutterstock