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Subject Balloons for spying, countering drones and psychological warfare, Chinese military writings reveal
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Original Message e Washington Times - Monday, February 6, 2023
China’s People’s Liberation Army plans to use high-altitude balloons to counter long-range U.S. drones, launch psychological warfare operations and gather intelligence, a review of Chinese military and technical writings reveals.

Beijing also reportedly test-fired a hypersonic missile from an airship in 2018, highlighting the military’s interest in multiple uses for lighter-than-air aircraft.

The U.S. decision to dispatch an F-22 to shoot down a Chinese surveillance balloon off the Carolina coast Saturday, after it traveled across the country from northern Montana, has focused new attention on the capabilities and threats posed by helium-filled, maneuverable craft.

Defense officials said little intelligence could be gained from sensitive military sites along the path despite the delay in knocking out the balloon. The maneuverable craft’s sensors fell into relatively shallow waters intact and are expected to be recovered.

The sensor package, which the Pentagon insisted was monitored and neutralized during the cross-country spying mission, could provide details on its multiple optical systems and its satellite communications links. Another Chinese surveillance balloon was detected recently over Central and South America, the Pentagon said without elaborating.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning denied to reporters again Monday that the balloons are used for spying, and Chinese officials said the Biden administration “overreacted” to the incident.

SEE ALSO: U.S. tracked Chinese spy balloon from the start but held off on attack, NORAD commander says

Yet a 2020 report by four Chinese technicians with the Aerospace Information Research Institute at the Chinese Academy of Sciences revealed key details on Chinese high-altitude balloon sensor capabilities and missions. The report said high-altitude balloons operating in so-called near space — 12 to 62 miles high — offer advantages over reconnaissance aircraft or satellites.

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