Chinese spy balloon sought covert US communications signals, State Department says

Washington – chinese spy balloon The State Department said Thursday that the balloon shot down on Saturday was carrying a device that intercepts classified communications, providing the first evidence the balloon was conducting espionage.

A U.S. Department of Defense spokesman said in a statement that it has the ability to fly high-altitude U-2 reconnaissance planes to survey equipment hanging from 200-foot balloons and conduct “signal intelligence gathering operations.” said to have found

The spy balloon’s incursion into the United States sparked a diplomatic disconnect with China and prompted Secretary of State Anthony Brinken’s decision to cancel a trip to Beijing. and asked the Biden administration for an answer.

On Thursday, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee were scheduled to hear classified briefings by officials from the State and Defense Departments.

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The Pentagon waited for the balloon to pass over land and shot it down off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday in an attempt to avoid death and property damage. Allowed spying on the most sensitive strategic sites, nuclear missile silos and military bases.

The balloon’s spyware payload is about the size of a regional jetliner and is equipped with “multiple antennas, including arrays that can likely collect communications and determine geolocation,” according to a spokesperson’s statement. I was. He was not allowed to speak publicly. Pentagon officials say the balloon’s predictable path allowed it to protect sensitive sites from such collection devices.

Why China's Spy Balloons Are Not So Special in Espionage Technology

Why China’s Spy Balloons Are Not So Special in Espionage Technology

The balloon was equipped with solar panels large enough to power “multiple active information-gathering sensors,” the statement said. The Chinese government operates a fleet of such spy balloons, whose operations are directed by the Chinese military.

There have been at least five spy balloon incursions into US territory, according to the Pentagon and State Departments.

Meanwhile, federal officials involved in analyzing the balloon’s components said it was “very early in the process” of recovery, a senior FBI official familiar with the matter said Thursday.

Balloon material sent to FBI lab

The materials were taken from the scene to the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Virginia for examination. So far, the team has pulled part of the balloon’s canopy and some wiring out of the water, but most of the material remains underwater, officials said, creating a “massive scene” for the debris field. It is expressed as

There was no evidence that the airship was capable of attack, officials said. It was not immediately clear how long the restoration work would take.

On Wednesday, a senior Pentagon official revealed some additional details about the balloon and China’s broader “airship collection program.”

brig. Pentagon spokesman General Pat Ryder said the Chinese balloon shot down off the coast of South Carolina last Saturday was part of a massive global surveillance program that Beijing has been conducting for “several years.” said.

Before: Chinese reconnaissance balloon flew over other US missile and nuclear weapons sites, lawmakers say

Ryder has acknowledged that similar Chinese-made balloons flew over U.S. territory four times during the Trump and Biden administrations, but until the U.S. conducts a “subsequent intelligence analysis,” they were not seen as surveillance balloons. It said it did not immediately identify that it was.

Ryder also said that allowing the balloon to fly past a number of highly classified U.S. military sites allowed the Pentagon to learn “more” about the program.

“In terms of where they’re coming from, you can’t go any specific place other than China. The last thing I want to say is that last week we offered the United States a unique opportunity to study. We have more information about China’s surveillance balloon program that will help us continue to improve our ability to track these types of objects,” Ryder said. We know they were trying to monitor a strategic location for the sake of it.”

Ryder told reporters that China’s balloon surveillance program “operates on at least five continents in regions such as Latin America, South America, Southeast Asia, East Asia and Europe, and China remains a pacing challenge for the Pentagon.” We will continue to focus on this in the future.”

A Pentagon spokesperson also said China’s surveillance balloons vary in both size and capabilities, but what kind of intelligence they are gathering, including the one shot down on Saturday. did not comment on

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY. Chinese spy balloon wanted US covert communications: State Department