US failed to detect past Chinese spy balloons, Air Force general says
A senior US general responsible for bringing down a Chinese spy balloon said on Monday (6 February) the military had not detected previous spy balloons before the one that appeared on 28 January over the United States and called it an “awareness gap.”
Air Force General Glen VanHerck, head of US North American Aerospace Defense Command and Northern Command, said the latest balloon was 200 feet (60 meters) tall and the payload under it weighed a couple thousand pounds.
VanHerck added that US intelligence determined the previous flights after the fact based on “additional means of collection” of intelligence without offering further details on whether that might be cyber espionage, telephone intercepts or human sources.
Republican Representative Michael Waltz, who serves on the House of Representatives intelligence committee, said on Sunday that the Pentagon had told him that several Chinese balloon incidents had happened over the past few years, including over Florida.
US fighter jet shoots down suspected Chinese spy balloon
A US military fighter jet shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina on 4 February, a week after it entered US airspace and triggered a dramatic spying saga that worsened Sino-US relations.