Lazy eyes listen
According to Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a so-called Chinese “spy balloon” shot down off the east coast of the United States in February did not acquire any intelligence. Beijing emphasised from the start that the balloon was not a spy plane.
“The intelligence community, their assessment – and it’s a high-confidence assessment – [is] that there was no intelligence collection by that balloon,” Milley told the American broadcaster.
In January, the balloon in issue appeared in the sky over Alaska before floating south and reaching the United States. Its high-altitude flight terminated in early February when it was shot down off the coast of South Carolina.
According to unidentified authorities, the balloon made “multiple passes” over US military locations to capture electronic communications before “increasing its speed” to “get it out of US airspace as quickly as possible.”
In response, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned China’s government “both unacceptable and irresponsible” for flying the balloon over US territory, and cancelled a planned trip to Beijing. China insisted that the balloon was a civilian vessel that had been blown off course, which Milley now agrees is a possibility.
“Those winds are very high,” Milley said of the currents above Hawaii that steered the balloon east across the United States. “The particular motor on that aircraft can’t go against those winds at that altitude.”
Despite admitting that the balloon did not collect intelligence, Milley told ABC News that it was outfitted with sensors and transmitters to do so. “I believe it was a spy balloon.”