US: ‘Shot Down Chinese Balloon Clearly Spying’
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
WASHINGTON (Worthy News) – The United States says images from U2 spy planes show that a massive Chinese balloon flying across the U.S. last week, including over sensitive nuclear sites, was unmistakably equipped for collecting intelligence and not weather data.
It was part of a fleet of China’s surveillance balloons that have flown over more than 40 countries under the direction of the Chinese military, the U.S. State Department added.
Detailed images taken by high-altitude spy aircraft revealed that the balloon flying over the equipment “was clearly for intelligence surveillance,” a U.S. State Department official said. It was “inconsistent with the equipment onboard weather balloons,” the Department explained.
The announcement likely raised questions about why U.S. President Joe Biden waited so long to shoot it down, with well-informed critics claiming it undermined national security.
The Biden administration admitted that the balloon flew over areas where the U.S. keeps nuclear missiles in underground silos and bases its strategic bombers but tried to play down the significance of the information gathering.
Beijing has denied the balloon was spying, saying the orb, the size of three passenger buses, was “a civilian aircraft” for meteorological “research.”
A U.S. fighter jet shot the balloon down over the Atlantic on Saturday after it had crossed much of the country.
The U.S. State Department said further investigations showed that the aircraft had multiple antennas in an array “likely capable of collecting and geo-locating communications.”
Solar panels attached to the balloon were large enough to produce power to operate “multiple active intelligence collection sensors,” the department said.
The agency also said the U.S. government was “confident” that the company making the balloon had direct commercial ties with the People’s Liberation Army, the Chinese military. It cited an official procurement portal for the army but did not name the firm. The revelations come at a sensitive moment for the 80-year-old U.S. president, who considers a re-election bid despite concerns about his age and perceived weakness as well as low approval ratings.
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