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U.S. military shoots down suspected Chinese surveillance balloon

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The U.S. military on Saturday shot down a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that had been transiting across the country for several days. (www.cnbc.com) More...

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darjr26
darjr26 10
So are they going to paint a ballon on the side of the F22?
Viperguy46
Jesse Carroll 16
Why didn't they just put a few holes in the ballon and let it settle to earth?
OnTheAve
OnTheAve 4
Won't work. The pressure differential would not be great enough to allow sufficient gases to escape to make a difference in altitude. These high-altitude balloons are very lightly pressurized.
LeanderWilliams
It could have worked with incendiary ammunition.
PDLanum
Philip Lanum 1
Ah - no.
The balloons use Helium - which does not explode, burn.

Nice try though.
PDLanum
Philip Lanum 1
Ah - no.
The baloons use Helium - which does not expode, burn.

Nice try though.
srobak
srobak 4
now now - this is no time to introduce rational thought to how our wonderful government runs things.
clarify
clarify 5
Well the U.S. military is the best at rational thought in such situations. Certainly armchair "experts" are not. Jesse Carroll is asking an honest questions, and she deserves an honest answer, not self-aggrandizing nonsense.

Jesse, this Forbes article describes the challenges with putting a "few holes" in the balloon: https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidhambling/2023/02/03/busting-that-chinese-balloon-is-harder-than-you-think/?sh=31c734b57d6a .
topgunnh
Peter McGrath 1
Maybe because they didn't want it to "settle to earth"! They held up shooting it down until it was over water and could never be recovered!
sledogpilot
Duane Mader 1
My thoughts too. Also we would have seen if the payload was set to self destruct
blackstock
Side note: The F-22 attack aircraft were callsign FRANK01 and FRANK02. It very possible this is a reference to the USAAS first ace, Frank Luke. aka, "The Arizona Balloon Buster".
eichmat
Tim Eichman 4
Watching a sped-up replay of the ADS-B data (on another site) and it was interesting to watch as the TFR took effect and flights that normally cut the corner from near Wilmington, NC to Miami, started having to take the long way over land. Then by the time of the shoot down, how far in-land civilian traffic had been pushed. Better be safe than accidentally take down a civilian by mistake.

Now, hope we find some juicy information about the PLA's surveillance capabilities from what we salvage.
franceinoregon
France Davis 10
Red Zeppelin...?
joy99708
Joy Miller 9
I'm appalled they let this pass the Aleutian's in our state of Alaska. We escort Russian and Chinese planes away from our airspace, BEFORE they enter it, on a regular basis. There is no excuse for this. Our Senator Lisa Murkowski's comments regarding this nailed it on the head.
bbabis
bbabis 24
We have F-22s in Alaska. They could have prevented a lot of intelligence gathering and made an easier recovery of debris possibly only endangering a moose.
darjr26
darjr26 4
Did you ever think that we might have actually been gaining useful intelligence from the ballon? Learning what devices and methods they were using could help us. We also could have been providing them with false information or even jamming or confusing their onboard systems. I think China gained very little intelligence data sending this ballon over us and, from a world view, came off looking pretty stupid for launching it.
MichaelDealey
Michael Dealey 3
What devices and methods? It was probably stolen American technology. It consisted of parts made in the West and had English lettering.

You're argument doesn't make any sense. It's like saying: There's a stranger in my house and they're taking inventory of my belongings and mapping out the location of my valuables. They also rummaged through some of my personal papers. But that's okay. I WATCHED THEM THE ENTIRE TIME!
darjr26
darjr26 3
Here is a quote from an Air Force Spokesperson.”I would also note that while we took all necessary steps to protect against the PRC surveillance balloon's collection of sensitive information, the surveillance balloon's overflight of U.S. territory was of intelligence value to us," the official said. "I can't go into more detail, but we were able to study and scrutinize the balloon and its equipment, which has been valuable."
MichaelDealey
Michael Dealey 3
Sounds like an after-the-fact talking point for the media.
This whole story is bogus, in my opinion. Something else entirely than what we're being told.
srobak
srobak 1
after looking at the path - are you really going to play the counter-intel card in this debacle? cmon...
clarify
clarify 2
The U.S. military and intelligence agencies know what they're doing. You don't.
darjr26
darjr26 -5
Yes I am. We could have taken it down over Alaska, Canada or Idaho without worrying about debris hitting anyone, if we felt it was any kind of actual threat to us.
MichaelDealey
Michael Dealey 2
First balloon:
The size of the three large buses. Maneuverable. Carrying surveillance equipment and explosives.
Deemed Not a threat.

Second "object":
Size of a car. No payload.
Deemed a Dangerous threat and taken out immediately.

We're being lied to.
BillOverdue
Bill Overdue 1
I don't think China gives a damn what the World thinks! They released Covid, ffs. Whatever they got was too much, and I'm sure it was plenty. My .02$, the military has become so lax and doesn't have the gonads to confront China, else it wouldn't have made it 24 hrs in US airspace. Political incompetence will be the demise of us all! The 2nd object was an over reaction of the 1st!
topgunnh
Peter McGrath 0
Chuck Schumer likd your comment so much he used it on Stephanopolus' show on Sunday!
Rosomak
Rosomak 3
The Chinese have hundreds of satellites flying around all over the globe, recording images day and night.

This was nothing more than a stunt
MichaelDealey
Michael Dealey 6
I agree. In fact, I'm skeptical of the entire story.
As you said, China already has satellites that can probably read your license plate from space.

I read one story claiming the balloon was intercepting civilian communications.
That made me laugh out loud.
Why would you need a balloon for that?
Tik-Tok is already deployed on most Americans' phones.
manarii
It was their test to demonstrate that our airspace can be penetrated without being detected. And it worked.
MichaelDealey
Michael Dealey 7
Not quite.
It was detected before it ever crossed into American airspace.
A more accurate statement would be: "to see if they could do it with no consequences."
They got their answer.

Taiwan next?
Who'll stop them?
RECOR10
RECOR10 -6
See, there you go, your pride and sense of national security is nothing but hate speech...you need to be more Woke...
srobak
srobak 3
General LeMay is rolling in his grave right now.
PDLanum
Philip Lanum 1
General LeMay did not have an aircraft that could have flown at that altitude.
4gloriajohns
Gloria Johns 2
RECOR10, You're starting to get a reputation.
srobak
srobak -1
a very good one.
withersfamily
Lee Withers 4
So far I haven't seen anything about possible recovery of the payload unless it seperated from the balloon on explosion I would think it to be quite recoverable.
musocat
I'd say recommission an SR-71 and sortie over China. Just to see if they could see it. And if they'd fire on it. And then outrun their missiles.

OK, wishful thinking on my part just because I like the Blackbird lol.
MrTommy
MrTommy 7
How far do you think a US balloon could go over Chinese air space before they 'eliminated it'?
blackstock
On Wednesday, Biden gave the order to shoot it down. Also, trusting people to do their jobs, he allowed the military to pick the best time, place, and means to do that, keeping in mind any danger to the US public and what intelligence they could gain. This has allowed the military to already understand many of its abilities. (They have been shadowing it with RC-135S Cobra Ball and P-8A Poseidon aircraft.) They knew what assets to conceal from it. The F-22 fighter has now scored its first air-to-air adversarial kill.
Stormy105
Ed Chapman 2
Four more to be an F-22 Ace!!!
srobak
srobak 2
He shouldn't have needed to give the order to shoot it down - and back in the cold war days - he wouldn't have. It would have been observed and reported on before it even made it to ADIZ, and once evaluated and determined to be both unmanned and unauthorized per protocol - it would have been taken out to land on some trees in alaska or canada. There were hundreds of opportunities to bring it down over areas that would not have had risk to people on the ground. We messed up, period. The president should have never entered into the equation - there have been procedures for this kind of thing for many decades.
cpalexander
cpalexander 4
That kind of leave-to-the-military-to-decide thinking is what the Soviet Union used to shoot down the civilian Korean airliner years ago. The US intelligence community learned much more by following the balloon across the country. And will probably learn more it they can recover the debris in much shallower waters.
cpalexander
cpalexander 1
…if they can recover…
rthiedke
rthiedke 2
I can't get past the fact that the title calls this a "suspected" surveillance balloon. Suspected?!?!?! If anyone is still just "suspecting" this, please let me know, I have a slightly used bridge in Brooklyn that I can get you a bargain price on!
Kairho
Kairho Carroll 1
The title was written about 5 days before your comment. As of now we know it as not being suspected.
JTylerB
Tyler Ballance 3
We used to shoot balloons as target practice and I can attest that they are sometimes hard to deflate with just fifty caliber rounds. However, I would like to see some test data regarding various methods that are cost-effective at deflating high altitude balloons. It seemed awfully expensive to use a $427,000 missile, if other more cost effective means were available. I also have grown to distrust everything that comes out of the "woke-Pentagon" or the Biden administration. Mr. Biden appears to be a Communist puppet, to me. I cannot imagine any logical reason for allowing a spy balloon to overfly the whole country, and only then shoot it down, after the Communist Chinese have gotten all of the imagery and sigint that they wanted.
brianrush
there are more - shoot EVERY one of them down.
chrisrobey
CHRIS ROBEY 4
The CCP once again turning truth into lies, per their own deluded and propaganda facilitated "strengths"...how quickly can we salvage so as to shine a spotlight on the truth!
ElliotCannon
Elliot Cannon 3
We learned more from the balloon than the Chinese did. It was a military decision to wait to shoot it down. Not a political one and that's fine with me.
augerin
Dave Mathes 2
....most cost effective solution...sigh...
Cephas1
Peter Connor 1
If, and I really mean if, the Pentagon knew what was happening with both of these "objects," then I think it would have been a wonderful opportunity for The White House or The Pentagon to tell us and the World, that we were 'on-top' of the situation and had decided to let object #1 float over the Continental U. S. as it was provided an unbelievable opportunity for our military and technical experts to 'mine' the data that the object's payload was collecting. It's not as if people in Montana were oblivious to this thing hanging out over their State. Again "IF."
LeanderWilliams
If, in fact, this was an intelligence-gathering balloon, chances are it did not plan to wait until it circumnavigated the globe back to China to have the info downloaded. It would have been equipped to radio data back to China at any point on the journey. My question is how was this balloon made to maneuver? Did it have flight control surfaces that popped out when they needed to alter course? If our intelligence gathering community is so great, wouldn't they have been able to detect any radio signals eminating from the balloon and block or jam those signals?
darjr26
darjr26 1
So now we’ve shot down something else that was approaching Alaska. We don’t seem to know what it was. What the heck is going on?
briansfreeman
Brian Freeman 0
So let me get this straight...China unleashes a deadly virus that kills millions of people around the world and the U.S. government and population show very little interest in exploring the virus origin or purpose. But a Chinese balloon of limited capability meanders overhead and everyone gets their panties in a bunch. Anyone else see the irony here??
n555cf
rbt schaffer 0
We followed this thing with U-2s with electronic surveillance the whole way. Probably got a whole lot of info on the Chinese and doubt they got anything on us since we shut down operations ahead of it's approach.
MichaelDealey
Michael Dealey 1
They probably found out it was our own technology.
KJ7S
KJ7S -1
One thing that crossed my mind, the so-called payload aside, was, were they perhaps thinking about what, besides the gas to keep it aloft, may have been in the balloon in the way of some kind of biological genocide material ie another Wuhan leak to spread all over the jet stream spreading it all over the country rather than doing what they did, waiting until the jet stream could carry all of the 'gas' out to the ocean away from us, at least for the time being.
JoeQSurf
Adrian Hunter -8
Their mission being accomplished, I'm surprised they didn't use something much bigger to completely destroy the evidence. A week late and ham handed FAIL. Who's in charge? Who acted for ROTUS Brandon this time??? Surgical and with finesse would actually make sense. Allowing it to get beyond the Aleutians smells of Dereliction of Duty United States Code Title 10, Section 892, Article 92; don't ya think???

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

blackstock
Which drone do you recommend, keeping in mind that it would have needed to move with precision at 66,000 feet and be able to grapple a payload with a physical size of 2 to 3 buses?
Propwash122
Peter Fuller 12
This balloon shoot-down could have been done with a precisely directed laser weapon, if such a thing existed. A clean laser shot through the balloon envelope would have done far less damage than a missile explosion, making it easier to recover and study the balloon’s payload.
ravanviman
hal pushpak 6
Reportedly, the missile was a "dud" -- on purpose. No explosive charge. All they wanted to do was to pierce the ballon. Which they did. Might have been better if it had hit the balloon a bit higher and not so close to the electronics and antenna arrays. But good job nonetheless.
OnTheAve
OnTheAve 7
Unfortunately, Lasers will not work at that distance plus there is too much infraction from the atmosphere. Besides, the power necessary to generate would have been tremendous. There is no knowledge of such devices capable of doing this.

Star Wars is not here yet in real life.
Nooge
Nooge 2
Jewish Space Lasers maybe ?
yoni17
I smell a nazi
OnTheAve
OnTheAve 3
Currently, the Laser weapons of which you speak, which are operated by the U.S. Nave, have a range of one to two miles. The Chinese spy balloon was about 11 to 15 miles high -- and that assumes the weaponery is directly underneath it.
MichaelDealey
Michael Dealey 1
You mean the ones we know about.
srobak
srobak 0
there are aerial platforms which such lasers reside on - including the F-22
cpalexander
cpalexander 7
Are these aerial platform lasers you speak of modified versions of MTG’s Jewish space lasers?
OnTheAve
OnTheAve 4
Merely burning a hole in the balloon is not sufficient to bring it down. You need to destroy the structural integrity which the Sidewinder missile is great at doing.

Who are we to question to decisions made by our brave men and women, and their leaders who serve us in our military? They used the right tactics, and accomplished what needed to be done.
JTylerB
Tyler Ballance 3
I hope that you are being facetious. Americans should always question and debate the decisions made by our elected leaders, as well as those who serve in our military service branches. That is what separates us from the Communists and Third world dictatorships (or at least it used to). I would like to see more data regarding ways high altitude surveillance balloons have been engaged in the past, beside the dubious Forbes article. I have been skeptical of main stream media articles, ever since I discovered how they all lied to us about the Glomar Challenger and Explorer missions, claiming that they were mining Manganese nodules off of the Pacific floor, when they were really recovering a Soviet Submarine (a mission that partially succeeded).
MichaelDealey
Michael Dealey 1
or blowing up pipelines.
OnTheAve
OnTheAve 1
I am talking about military tactics. These people are trained to do make operational decisions and do their jobs.

OTOH: Military strategy e.g., to go to war or not is absolutely something with which all citizens should be engaged with, so I agree with you there. This is why the President is Commander-in-Chief as you know. However, there have been examples in the past where we have had the wrong person as President, and the voters preventing him from serving another term.
ghstark
Greg S 3
I don't believe there are any US production drones that can fly anywhere near 60k feet. Also, anything with a wing would have to fly way too fast to maintain lift at that altitude. Probably the best vehicle to use for this purpose is another balloon. Or, as Peter Fuller suggests, a military-grade laser (but using laser weapons is not necessarily an escalation that we'd want to undertake). But engineering a solution from scratch to operationally functional is not something you can do in week. It's likely that with photo recon and SIGINT they already had a very good idea what was on the balloon. The best reason to shoot it down is that it was an egregious and reckless violation of US airspace, and for that an F-22 and missiles is just fine.

As an alternative, and this is just the hippie in me thinking, we could just have allowed the obvious Chinese provocation to occur and negotiated with China to even help them recover the craft (assuming that they have some way to recover it). The Chinese are very strategic, and we surely did exactly what they expected us to do. To treat them with sugar instead of vinegar would like have upset whatever strategic goals they were advancing.
redmillander
John Millander 4
What we ought to do, after recovery and exploitation, is send the CCP a bill for all the U-2 recon flights, the F-22 and F-15 flight hours, missile cost, and salvage costs. Pending that payment, charge them to ship the debris back in a million little pieces after tear down. Think this Admin has the cojones to do that?
Rosomak
Rosomak 3
Global hawk max altitude is 65k.
redmillander
John Millander 1
And I believe, unarmed.
srobak
srobak 0
it has hard points and can also accommodate a laser platform
PDLanum
Philip Lanum 1
So, you think someone could throw one together in a few days?

You don't think to clear eh?

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