Three buses in size and multiple sensors… “China’s Giant Balloon,” shot down by the U.S. military, has advantages and performance that should not be underestimated. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Three buses in size and multiple sensors… “China’s Giant Balloon,” shot down by the U.S. military, has advantages and performance that should not be underestimated.

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A Chinese balloon flying over the United States. You can see that there is a payload under the sphere (Image: Afro)

The size of the balloon was unimaginable.

The balloon was shot down by the U.S. military on February 4 over territorial waters off the East Coast of South Carolina. It was about 60 meters high, the size of three buses. It was equipped with multiple sensors for information gathering, antennas for intercepting communications, solar panels, and other equipment. The U.S. State Department claims that it was part of China’s surveillance activities around the world.

The balloon crossed the U.S. mainland. It was huge, about the size of a small jet, and carried about one ton of cargo. When the U.S. analyzed images of the balloon’s flight and wreckage from the U2 reconnaissance aircraft, they found that it had communication intercept capabilities. The Chinese authorities claim that the balloon was ‘a civilian balloon for scientific research on meteorology and other subjects,’ but the contents of the onboard cargo are contradictory. The U.S. side believes that it was manufactured by a company related to the Chinese military,” said a reporter from the international section of a national newspaper.

What Drones and Satellites Cannot Do

A balloon that was shot down and fell into the ocean off the East Coast (Image: Afro)

The United States is not the only country where Chinese balloons have been discovered that are believed to be used to intercept communications. The U.S. State Department noted that the balloons were flying over more than 40 countries on five continents. In addition to Japan, these countries include Taiwan, the Philippines, and India.

The Chinese balloons were probably trying to obtain military intelligence in the United States. It is known that the balloon was flying over Montana, where there is a base for the operation of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). In the Philippines and elsewhere, it is thought that they were trying to understand the movements of the U.S. fleet deployed in the South China Sea. Those involved are thought to be strategic support units that focus on space and cyber activities.

Information Gathering by Balloons ……. This may sound like an old-fashioned tactic, but it has advantages that should not be underestimated. Military journalist Buntaro Kuroi explains.

Drones and military aircraft can cause a big problem if they enter the airspace of the other country. With a satellite, it would be difficult to catch the signal emitted by a cell phone. However, with a balloon, the other party will be less cautious, and since it flies at an altitude of about 18,000 meters, it will be able to obtain small signals. And since they move slowly, it is easy to intercept their communications.

Mr. Kuroi continues, “There is also an unexpected target.

It is easy to detect because it is so large, but no one will think it is for military purposes. This time, too, the U.S. military did not suspect it at first, but it was discovered through analysis by intelligence authorities. I believe that China was using balloons, which are difficult to identify, to collect raw data and update the latest data from the U.S. military. This is a form of exploitation of a flaw in the information management system.

In Japan, “suspicious balloons” have also been spotted in Hachinohe City, Aomori Prefecture, and Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture. However, the exercise of the right of self-defense under Article 9 of the Constitution is limited to cases in which force is systematically and deliberately used by another country, and the balloons cannot be shot down as easily as in the United States.

A balloon flying over U.S. territorial waters (Image: Afro)
A U.S. military aircraft shot it down (Image: Afro)
The sphere was destroyed and fell into the sea (Image: Afro)
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