As a result of documents allegedly leaked by a Massachusetts Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira, U.S. intelligence agencies have discovered that at least four Chinese spy balloons were monitoring the country as well, which was previously undisclosed upon the discovery of a Chinese spy baloon that travered the United States for several days before the military finally shot it down over the ocean off the coast of South Carolina. Each of them were equipped with sophisticated sensors and antenna technology, as detailed in a report by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
According to the Daily Mail, the sightings occurred during the Biden administration.
In the documents, one balloon passed over a US carrier strike group while another balloon, referred to by US officials as Bulger-21, traveled around the Earth from December 2021 to May 2022. Furthermore, a third balloon named Accardo-21 is mentioned in the documents, as well as reports of a fourth balloon crashing into the South China Sea.
“The documents also identify the balloon that crossed the continental U.S. in January and February before being shot down off the coast of South Carolina was code-named Killeen-23,” the UK news outlet reported.
Chinese spy balloons are named alphabetically, according to a US official to the Washington Post, suggesting that there may be additional cases of identified Chinese spy balloons that have not been reported.
“It also appears that the balloons were named after notorious criminals, including Tony Accardo, James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, and Donald Killeen but the reason behind this remains unclear,” the report said.
A Chinese balloon, which the administration permitted to fly across most of the country for days, was shot down by order of President Joe Biden in early February. Pentagon officials admitted that balloon could navigate, and it flew over several sensitive US military bases, including Whiteman Air Force Base in central Missouri, which houses several nuclear missile silos and a fleet of B-2 bombers.
“The most recent documents reveal that the U.S. government was yet to identify the purpose of sensors and antennas on the craft more than a week after it was shot down Feb 4,” the Daily Mail reported.
“The downed balloon was also revealed to carry sophisticated reconnaissance capabilities, including radar that could see at night and penetrate clouds, topsoil and other thin materials, according to one document produced by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency on Feb. 15,” the report continued.
Additionally, the leaked documents reveal that Bulger-21’s solar panels produce 10,000 watts of power, enough to power any surveillance equipment. Accardo-21 and Bulger-21 were also equipped with advanced surveillance technology during their journeys around the world, according to the outlet.
Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group, a Chinese company sanctioned by the US after it was involved in the February balloon scandal, was reported to have developed Bulger-21, according to documents. According to the documents, the Chinese government did not expect the balloon to enter US airspace.
An American military official admitted earlier this month that a Chinese spy balloon that infiltrated American air space earlier this year gathered vital intelligence on military assets.
“China was able to control the balloon so it could make multiple passes over some of the sites (at times flying figure-eight formations) and transmit the information it collected back to Beijing in real-time, the three officials said. The intelligence China collected was mostly from electronic signals, which can be picked up from weapons systems or include communications from base personnel, rather than images, the officials said,” CNBC reported.
“The three officials said China could have gathered much more intelligence from sensitive sites if not for the administration’s efforts to move around potential targets and obscure the balloon’s ability to pick up their electronic signals by stopping them from broadcasting or emitting signals,” the outlet added.
According to senior officials from the Defense Department, the balloon did not offer much value to Chinese intelligence agencies in terms of intelligence collection “over and above what [China] is likely able to collect through things like satellites in low earth orbit.”
Biden administration officials said the balloon could collect signals intelligence after it was shot down in February.