The United States did not detect previous high-altitude Chinese balloons until they exited US airspace, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing White House officials
WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 06th February, 2023) The United States did not detect previous high-altitude Chinese balloons until they exited US airspace, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing White House officials.
Defense officials said that at least three suspected Chinese surveillance balloons had traveled over the continental US during the Trump administration and at least one previously during the Biden administration, prompting questions about how they were handled and why the latest incident was not avoided, the report said on Sunday.
Senior administration officials told The Wall Street Journal that the flights were much shorter - reducing the window for detection - and much of the intelligence came to light after the fact. They declined to elaborate on how the balloons were detected in the prior four instances.
They added that intelligence agencies are preparing to debrief key figures from the Trump administration. National security advisors under Trump - John Bolton, H.R. McMaster and Robert O'Brien - have said that they were unaware of any security breaches by Chinese balloons.
The latest "spy" balloon first entered US airspace on January 28. Last Wednesday, it was spotted by civilians hovering over the state of Montana, which houses several nuclear missile sites, prompting the White House to publicly acknowledge the breach. The US Air Force waited until the balloon was over the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday before shooting it down. Amid the political upheaval, Secretary of State Antony Blinken also delayed his planned visit to China.
Beijing said that the balloon was a civilian airship engaged in scientific research, mainly meteorological studies, and expressed regret over its unintended entry into US airspace.