Suspect Balloons with Mysterious Origins

Every week, new unidentified balloons keep being discovered over America and shot down by NORAD.


Raphaël Cantin

Every week, new unidentified balloons keep being discovered over America and shot down by NORAD.

The first balloon was seen over Montana on February first. It had flown over Alaska and Canada before arrivng in the U.-S.. It was shot down by the US Air Firce close to Myrtle beach, off the coast of South Carolina on February fourth. A few days later, counterintelligence experts of the FBI analyzed the debris and so far, they were most certainly Chinese spying instruments.

From the top of the balloon to the bottom of the payload, the flying object was 61 meters tall. The payload itself weighed approximately 2000 pounds. The balloon was traveling at an altitude of 18 to 20 kilometers high.

A F-22 Raptor from the US Air Force shot down the balloon with a supersonic, heat seeking, air-to-air missile, the AIM 9-X Sidewinder.

The debris were spread amongst an 11 kilometers radius in the U.-S. territorial waters, where the water was around 14 meters deep, complicating the research. The recovery operations of the 9.1 meters long payload have been going on for a few days before ending on February 17. Sonars, submarines and many other technological instruments have been used to localize everything. The Chinese government asked to have the debris back, but the request was denied.

“The balloon scares me because if China spies on other countries, they might be planning an attack or even trying to help Russia in the war, which could aggravate the situation,” said Félix Moisan, a student at La Camaradière.

NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) ordered to be shot down three other unidentified flying object the folowing week-end: the first over Prudhoe Bay, Alaska; the second over the Yukon Territory of Canada; and the third over Lake Huron.

They were all shot down by the first plane withing range, American F-22 Raptors.

The debris of the one shot down over Lake Huron fell down on the Canadian side. Recovery units are looking for the debris of all three flying objects, but none of them is confirmed to have Chinese origins. “The last three that were shot down were very, very small objects,” affirmed Senator Jim Risch of Idaho, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He noted that “at least one” of them was carrying a payload, but the size of it is still unknown.

“We haven’t seen any indication or anything that points specifically to the idea that these three objects were part of the P.R.C.’s spying program, or that they were definitively involved in external intelligence collection efforts,” said John F. Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council.