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The US Air Force on Saturday shot down a floating hot air balloon off the coast of South Carolina. China has reacted strongly to the US action.
Here are five spots on the hot air balloon:
The hot air balloon was first spotted over Montana on Thursday. After the Pentagon press conference on the matter, China issued a statement, calling it a “civilian airship used for research purposes, mainly meteorology”. China’s Foreign Ministry said the balloon had deviated from the plan set by the Westerlies.
The presence of the hot air balloon shocked the intelligence community in the US, which said countries now rely on satellite technology to collect data. However, Peter Layton, a fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute in Australia and a former Royal Australian Air Force officer, said: CNN that the United States has used hundreds of these balloons since the early days of the Cold War to spy on its adversaries.
He also points out that miniaturization of electronics due to advances in technology has made them lighter in weight, thus making balloons cheaper and easier to launch than satellites. “They have a very low signature and low-to-zero emissions that are hard to catch up with,” said Blake Herzinger, an expert on Indo-Pacific defense policy at the American Enterprise Institute. traditional situational awareness or surveillance technology”. via CNN.
A senior defense official told The New York Times (NYT) That surveillance balloon has also previously strayed into US territory – once under the Biden administration and three times under the Trump administration. The official added that China has developed a fleet of hot air balloons to conduct surveillance operations, and these balloons have been spotted in countries across five continents.
Biden administration officials have not confirmed the size of the balloon, but on Thursday, ABC news reported that it was roughly the size of three buses.
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