The Chinese espionage balloon.

Tidewater

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I saw that on the news. Weird.
The Japanese tried releasing balloons which dropped incendiary bombs on the Pacific Northwest during the Second World War.
As for this one, I hope we are expending efforts to bring it down and examine the sensor array. Maybe that would discourage the ChiComs from trying this stunt again.
 
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TIDE-HSV

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I tend to agree with Gen. Clapper who accepts their explanation and apology. There's probably no way it could gather better intel than their satellites and they wanted this now-canceled summit with Blinken as much or more than we. The balloon would be sure to scuttle it. OTOH, I solidly back an effort to retrieve it and examine its instrumentation...
 

Bazza

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Don’t spies use satellites now?

But with the advent of modern satellite technology enabling the gathering of overflight intelligence data from space, the use of surveillance balloons had been going out of fashion.

Or at least until now.

Recent advances in the miniaturization of electronics mean the floating intelligence platforms may be making a comeback in the modern spying toolkit.
More here:

 
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twofbyc

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Couldn’t data from those sensors be relayed? Maybe (?) their tech isn’t that advanced; I don’t understand the argument used about falling debris.
Is this thing the size of the Goodyear Blimp? I’ve never seen a ballon whose basket (or even whatever they call it) was as big as a bus. If it were shot down, I wouldn’t think anything other than the balloon itself would survive in pieces larger than a suitcase. I think that was an unnecessary scare tactic used to mislead; if the thing really is that big then I retract my comment.
But Canada just complained about another one. So this is either gross incompetence by China (possible) or a very calculated probe to see how far they can go (because it’s China, also possible). I’ll reserve judgement until more info is released.
 
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twofbyc

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And in regards to BM’s comments: do we conduct high altitude surveillance that is NOT actually a low orbit satellite? China wouldn’t dare shoot down an orbiting satellite in retaliation for us shooting down a balloon; BM needs to clarify because if what we have is not technically “in orbit” then they would have the right to shoot it down at any time.
Shooting down a satellite is an act of war; shooting down a foreign “spy” balloon over your country is not.
 
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TexasBama

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CrimsonJazz

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Get enough altitude above Kansas and one EMP can hit the contiguous 48.
Yikes! But could a balloon carry an EMP that big? I'm not very familiar with the tech, but surely it would have to have quite a bit of size to it in order to influence a range that large.
 

crimsonaudio

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Yikes! But could a balloon carry an EMP that big? I'm not very familiar with the tech, but surely it would have to have quite a bit of size to it in order to influence a range that large.
Don't know, but they can carry pretty heavy payloads if they're big enough.

I'm pretty sure the altitude required to have straight line of site to the lower 48 is several hundred km, I've no idea how high these balloons could go.

But they could gauge how the US reacts and make notes - a series of smaller EMPs strategically placed (and from lower altitudes than discussed above) would cripple the US power infrastructure for a long, long time. I've read that the large transformers used in distribution substations generally have lead times measured in months or even years - now imagine having to replace thousands of those, along with hundreds of thousands of local transformers...

Anyway, this is 100% conjecture. I've no idea what they're using that thing for.
 
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