Mysterious Balloons Bring Controversy.
Since the end of January and the beginning of February, unidentified flying balloons have taken most of the media coverage. It all began when the U.S. military identified a Chinese spy balloon as it entered U.S. airspace on January 28th, north of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. ABC News confirmed the earliest sighting in Montana on February 1st. Later heading southeastward over Kansas and Missouri until It was eventually shot down over Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – using one Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missile costs taxpayers an estimated $400,000. The first report of the balloon came when Secretary of State Antony Blinken had planned a trip to China to ease U.S.-China relations.
Since then, the U.S. military has shot down four flying objects. One vessel was shot down in Canada, and the two other vessels were shot down in Alaska and over Lake Huron. As the Associated Press reported, China denied any claims of its spying and was instead a civilian-use balloon intended for meteorology research. Many Republicans have been critical of Joe Biden’s response. Roger Wicker called its presence a disastrous projection of weakness by the White House” despite not showing Donald Trump the same type of criticism during his presidency as at least three Chinese balloons have crossed the U.S. airspace during the Trump administration.
The three other vessels shot down have been reported to have been balloons tied to private corporate companies or research institutions studying weather or conducting scientific research. The media coverage of the Chinese balloon may come from the history of balloons.
The U.S. has also used Spy Balloons; reported in 2012 by the New York Times, the U.S. had a Spy Balloon parked in Kabul, Afghanistan, and was described by Afghans as “a growing sense of oppression, the feeling that even as the Americans are starting to pack up to leave, the foreigners’ eyes will always be on them.” The Pentagon has a long history of balloon technology for surveillance, testing these balloons domestically, as reported by The Guardian in 2019. The use of balloons even dates back to World War II by the Japanese in using Balloon Bombs, which were kept secret from the American public then. Balloons used to surveil is not a new concept, and much of this information has been coming directly from the Pentagon as a “Surveillance Balloon.” Despite China’s firm denials, the Pentagon draws severe accusations of spying on sensitive military sites.