The balloon carried equipment capable of intercepting communications and determining the location of conversations on the ground.
US State Department Confirms Spy Balloon Capabilities
The US State Department has confirmed that the balloon had multiple antennas and was equipped with solar panels large enough to power multiple active intelligence collection sensors. The government determined that the program was run by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) due to its relationship with a firm that has a relationship with China’s military.
China Conducts Aerial Surveillance Over 40 Countries
China is accused of conducting aerial surveillance missions in over 40 countries across five continents. The US military shot down the balloon after observing its multi-day trip over Canada and the US. The Pentagon has established that China’s aerial surveillance program has carried out missions over Latin America, South America, Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Europe in recent years.
US Government Analyzes Spy Balloon
The US government determined some of the balloon’s capabilities and flight history after collecting data from U-2 spy planes and sensors. The balloon’s flightpath took it over sensitive security sites, including a nuclear-armed missile site in Montana.
Congress Questions Delay in Shooting Down Spy Balloon
Biden administration officials appeared before Congress for the first time to answer questions about the delay in shooting down the balloon. Lawmakers asked why the balloon wasn’t shot down when it was first spotted above the Aleutian Islands near Alaska. The US military wanted to capture the balloon and analyze it. Still, the recovery operation would have been dangerous due to the Bering Sea's water depths and low-30s winter water temperatures.
The Purpose of Chinese Spy Balloon Remains Unclear
It remains to be seen what information the Chinese were seeking with the spy balloon. The flight path took it over sensitive security sites, but the exact purpose remains unknown.