14 April 2023: Spy Balloon Update

Leaked documents show that U.S. intelligence agencies were aware of up to four additional Chinese spy balloons different to the one that was ultimately shot down off the coast of the U.S. in February. The capabilities of the one that flew over the continental United States during January and February, have been questioned. The balloon carried sensors and antennas according to a document allegedly leaked to a Discord chatroom by Jack Teixeira, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard. Other balloons flew over a U.S. carrier strike group in a previously unreported incident, and one crashed in the South China Sea, a second top-secret document stated. The balloon that flew over the continental U.S. in January and February had sophisticated reconnaissance equipment including synthetic aperture radar. Spy plane photographs of the balloon showed a parabolic dish, sensors and solar panels capable of producing “humongous,” amounts of power. It was about 100 times the amount generated by balloons such as Google’s Loon, which provides internet service, and nearly twice that generated by some orbital SAR satellites, according to a specialist in remote sensing, Paul Byrne, who is an associate professor at Washington University in St. Louis, in a Washington Post report.