Chinese "weather" balloon shoot-down over US

In summary: Russians and Chinese. In summary, the Chinese government said that this weather balloon was a research balloon, but it was shot down with an AIM-9X missile. The missile cost several hundred thousand dollars, and the balloon was less useful than that because it didn't have any countermeasures.
  • #106
phinds said:
The ineptitude of the Russian military has been a source of considerable surprise to me, and likely to others. I never thought they would be able to stand against NATO forces if it ever came to that, but I did not suspect they were so thoroughly incompetent.
Years of grift and internal rot due to such pervasive corruption from top to bottom will do that, I guess. But it has clearly surprised the Pentagon, who originally thought this would all be over in a month or two... until the fighting started and Russia exposed itself as a hollowed out shell of what it portrays itself to be.
 
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  • #107
russ_watters said:
I found your comment in post #71 weird/confusing too.
My point was that there is a proportion to things. I do not wake up in the morning and worry "OMG what if the Chinese send a huge balloon over? What if we can't bring it gently to eaeth?"
I do worry every damned day about ICBMs. The balloon is a billboard with some radios The more we worry about it the happier it makes the military establishent in China (and here too ....part of the genius of it!)
 
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  • #108
gmax137 said:
what nitwit
You'll never find out. There are simply too many to choose from.

You have to look at it from the media's point of view. Important people don't use acres. Those are for farmers and others in flyover country. Important people live in Washington proper - the Distruct - or Manhattan. Perhaps the trendy parts of Brooklyn. They use subway service to get around - they know what a mile is, but it is hardly a day-to-day quantity. Might as well use hogsheads. But important people have all watched football games.
 
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  • #109
boneh3ad said:
Meanwhile, the Russians continue to talk to each other over commercial, unencrypted radios in Ukraine.
My favorite is the undisciplined cell phone usage.
 
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  • #110
russ_watters said:
My favorite is the undisciplined cell phone usage.
It only shows whom they sent to war: unexperienced, naive teenagers.
 
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  • #111
Vanadium 50 said:
You'll never find out. There are simply too many to choose from.

You have to look at it from the media's point of view. Important people don't use acres. Those are for farmers and others in flyover country. Important people live in Washington proper - the Distruct - or Manhattan. Perhaps the trendy parts of Brooklyn. They use subway service to get around - they know what a mile is, but it is hardly a day-to-day quantity. Might as well use hogsheads. But important people have all watched football games.

I'm going to call BS on this one. If the media was pandering exclusively to urban elites they would say the size in city blocks or something. Football is at least as popular in rural areas as urban areas.

A city dweller is probably the least likely person to have seen a football field in person?
 
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  • #112
hutchphd said:
My point was that there is a proportion to things. I do not wake up in the morning and worry "OMG what if the Chinese send a huge balloon over? What if we can't bring it gently to eaeth?"
I do worry every damned day about ICBMs. The balloon is a billboard with some radios
I don't worry about either, and I don't think anyone was actually significantly worried/scared of the balloon. I'm not sure where you got the idea that people were. Maybe misinterpreting interest for fear? It was interesting to the public and was a hostile act worthy of government response. It's the same type of incident as the Gary Powers U-2 shoot-down, but with lower stakes due to the posture of the relationship (not as openly hostile) and lack of a pilot.
The more we worry about it the happier it makes the military establishent in China (and here too ....part of the genius of it!)
I don't think you're interpreting it correctly at all. There was no intent to cause worry*/fear, no worry/fear resulted, so nothing for them to be happy about. The Chinese screwed up here and they know it.

*"worry" is such a diluted word with multiple interpretations of varied intensity. Our military/government has a responsibility to be aware of and respond to such things. I wouldn't generally call that "worry". You used the word "terrifying" originally.
 
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  • #114
Office_Shredder said:
A city dweller is probably the least likely person to have seen a football field in person
Tell that to a Redskins...er...the Team Formerly Known as Redskins - fan!
 
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  • #115
hutchphd said:
My point was that there is a proportion to things. I do not wake up in the morning and worry "OMG what if the Chinese send a huge balloon over? What if we can't bring it gently to eaeth?"
I do worry every damned day about ICBMs. The balloon is a billboard with some radios The more we worry about it the happier it makes the military establishent in China (and here too ....part of the genius of it!)
I would argue that overconfidence on your part or by your peer competitor is destabilizing.
 
  • #116
Here is what I think happened. It fits what we know, but we are unlikely to get facts in public to confirm or refute this.

I believe the Chinese were on a mission to photograph missile silos. Getting closer is better for this. It is probably valuable to know which (if any) silos are active, which are inactive, which are unused and which are merely decoys. I believe the mission plan was to come in high, get down low over Montana and possibly North Dakota, and then go up and north. Transmit when safely away, and ditch the balloon in the Arctic Ocean or maybe Hudson Bay.

I believe - or at least strongly suspect - that the US disabled the balloon over Montana. I can think of several ways to do this, one of which requires no technology beyond what would be commonly found on an Air Force base,

Why do this? Because it's embarrassing to the Chinese government, and when the inevitably overreact, it will be even worse. "When your adversary is making a fool of himself, let him."

I have no proof. But it fits.
 
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  • #117
Frabjous said:
I would argue that overconfidence on your part or by your peer competitor is destabilizing.
Sorry, but you will need to be a little less cryptic....I don't understand. Did they really believe we wouldn't notice?
 
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  • #118
hutchphd said:
Sorry, but you will need to be a little less cryptic....I don't understand. Did they really believe we wouldn't notice?
They were not noticed in the Trump and early Biden administrations.
Overconfidence is one of the ways that deterrence breaks down. I know if I had assets over a silo complex, I would be thinking about my first strike options.
 
  • #119
Vanadium 50 said:
Here is what I think happened. It fits what we know, but we are unlikely to get facts in public to confirm or refute this.

I believe the Chinese were on a mission to photograph missile silos. Getting closer is better for this. It is probably valuable to know which (if any) silos are active, which are inactive, which are unused and which are merely decoys. I believe the mission plan was to come in high, get down low over Montana and possibly North Dakota, and then go up and north. Transmit when safely away, and ditch the balloon in the Arctic Ocean or maybe Hudson Bay.

I believe - or at least strongly suspect - that the US disabled the balloon over Montana. I can think of several ways to do this, one of which requires no technology beyond what would be commonly found on an Air Force base,

Why do this? Because it's embarrassing to the Chinese government, and when the inevitably overreact, it will be even worse. "When your adversary is making a fool of himself, let him."

I have no proof. But it fits.
Very little of this makes sense. The balloon had something like a 1 ton payload. It had a lot more than just a camera on it for taking photos. Further, you can get photos of silos from satellites and the silos don't really do anything worth watching anyway. They sit there in the middle of fields, waiting (hopefully for eternity) until called upon. The US is also not known to use decoy silos. The Pentagon considered it in the 70s when it was proposed to play a "nuclear shell game" by moving missiles around to keep the Soviets on their toes, but it was abandoned as impractical and ineffective. So simply taking photos is not likely the mission here, though I am sure it was part of it. It almost certainly involved SIGINT/MASINT of some kind.

As discussed before, Canada is also not some magical safe haven for a Chinese balloon. Canada is one of the US' closest allies (a member of NATO and the Five Eyes) and is half of NORAD, which is charged with the aerospace defense of North America. They jointly tracked this with the US. It's unlikely that, if detected, the balloon would have flown safely out of Canada. The only reason it went through Canada in the first place is because the US and Canada jointly decided to let it after they detected it out by the Aleutians. Further, the balloon seems to have had satellite communications equipment so it was probably phoning home constantly. It didn't need to go hide out in Canada to do so.

At any rate, the maneuverability of such balloons is limited. If it's riding the jet stream down from Canada, it almost certainly doesn't have the power to go back against the prevailing winds. It can probably slow its travel down and redirect, but still generally follows the wind direction.

The better, simpler explanation: The Chinese government has been sending these balloons around the world for years now and they have largely gone undetected. It just so happens that this time it was detected and China was caught off guard by that while also being surprised at how we reacted. What we learned from this incident and the intelligence we captured while letting it overfly us allowed us to identify several previous incidents that went unnoticed or were brushed off, both here in the US and around the world. The timing compared to Blinken's visit to Beijing is likely coincidental since China didn't expect us to notice the balloon since we hadn't in the past.
 
  • #120
How do we know this? I don't mean to be stupid here but if they were nt noticed........?
 
  • #122
boneh3ad said:
“For those who have a sanguine view about the actual intelligence collection capabilities of this balloon, I think they’re underestimating the creative ways the PLA might use it either for intelligence and surveillance purposes, or as a platform for weapons,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), chairman of the Select Committee on China, who was commenting on public remarks made by Pentagon officials over the weekend."

TYhe sky is falling
I'll worry about the serious stuff, thanks. They are building and occupying islands in the China Sea and salivating over Taiwan while jailing patriots in
Hong Kong.
/
 
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  • #123
I'm banking on it being a weather balloon blown off course.
 
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  • #124
hutchphd said:
I'll worry about the serious stuff, thanks. They are building and occupying islands in the China Sea and salivating over Taiwan while jailing patriots in
Hong Kong.
(same reminder about not venturing too much into politics in this thread... thank you)
 
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  • #125
Office_Shredder said:
They may have just used this as a training exercise for the new plane. If China is going to send you target practice, you take it.
Ive heard some Chinese sources claim this is not the first such balloon, they've sent. Rather, they (claim to have) sent a few towards the US during the last few years, and they've sent two , one each to Colombia and to Venezuela. But they may have just been trying to divert.

 
  • #126
Vanadium 50 said:
First, some bad news for Don. Nobody in DC gives a hoot about Kansas. They call it "flyover country". I suspect a good number of them think the whole state is in black and white. Whatever the rationale, it was not "protecting Kansans."

I agree that shooting it down over water means you don
t have to deal with lookie-loos, or "yahoos" as they have been called upthread, but if you shoot it down over water, then it's over water,. Recovery is not so easy, especially if you want important litte tiny parts.

<snip>

As far as a dangerous payload, the Chinese are not stupid enough to do that.
The Chinese, or Xi? Who'd openly disagree with Xi?
 
  • #127
WWGD said:
The Chinese, or Xi? Who'd openly disagree with Xi?
Its a huge bureaucracy, control changes do not always deeply penetrate established procedures.
It looks to me to be a stupid mistake on the part of the Chinese.
Xi wanted to play nice with the US diplomatically, the the big Chinese org didn't respond well to the goal changes.
They are trying to cover things up now with different signals for different audiences.

At least they are better organized than the Russians.
 
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  • #128
Frabjous said:
They were not noticed in the Trump and early Biden administrations.
Do we know that? All we know is that there wasn't an incident reported in more or less real time.

We also don't know what the parameters were. A 12 foot balloon at 160,000 feet is noth the same as a 120 foot balloon at 60,000 feet.
 
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  • #129
BillTre said:
At least they are better organized than the Russians.
Talk about damning with faint praise!
 
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  • #130
fresh_42 said:
It only shows whom they sent to war: unexperienced, naive teenagers.
Hmm. We have an increasing problem here with gangs of a-hole teenagers. Can we send them over to fight for the Russians? Please?
 
  • #131
pinball1970 said:
I'm banking on it being a weather balloon blown off course.
Tongue in cheek @BillTre Something to counter the nuclear thing.
 
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  • #132
This whole thing is like watching Oprah show or maybe Saturday night live 🤣 TOP GUN chasing a mice. That is, if Raptors still work ? People, get over it. It was a weather balloon 🙄
 
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  • #134
discoversci said:
This whole thing is like watching Oprah show or maybe Saturday night live 🤣 TOP GUN chasing a mice. That is, if Raptors still work ? People, get over it. It was a weather balloon 🙄
BHow do you know it's all it was? Nations don't usually fly " weather "balloons ( how do you know what was actually inside of the balloon) incognito past each other.
 
  • #135
pinball1970 said:
I'm banking on it being a weather balloon blown off course.
Based on the solar panels, it was prepared for (very) long time operation => international issues should have been considered and handled. At the very least: proper tracking and forewarning, international monitoring...

Even if it was some scientific equipment, with all that silence it's a serious incident anyway.
 
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  • #136
Rive said:
Based on the solar panels, it was prepared for (very) long time operation => international issues should have been considered and handled. At the very least: proper tracking and forewarning, international monitoring...

Even if it was some scientific equipment, with all that silence it's a serious incident anyway.
As I said to Bill it was a poor attempt at humour to soften the tone.

Talk of Nuclear warheads, silos and “first strike” get me twitchy.

I did not know spy balloons were even a thing till this.

“Wrinkles in Time” George mentions balloons, in the Arctic? Data on the CMBR but a while since I read it.

I have a great contact regarding this so I will get his view and feedback.

If it is a genuine weather project or part of science operation then he is more likely to know than not.
Only just thought of him.
 
  • #137
pinball1970 said:
it was a poor attempt at humour to soften the tone.
Well ... there are indeed some very dumb aspects of this incident from all sides what makes the current harsh tone of officials a rightful target for jokes ...
 
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  • #138
fresh_42 said:
It only shows whom they sent to war: unexperienced, naive teenagers.

strangerep said:
Hmm. We have an increasing problem here with gangs of a-hole teenagers. Can we send them over to fight for the Russians? Please?

Best Russian prisoner employer. Give them a call
1675954735729.jpeg
 
  • #139
the core of China’s digital intelligence collection system remains an armada of more than 260 satellites dedicated to intelligence and surveillance. The balloons, however, may offer some advantages over satellites because they can hover over areas and may produce clearer images, according to U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.
https://www.yahoo.com/news/push-intelligence-edge-chinas-military-125405406.html

Chinese military scientists have been studying new materials and techniques to make balloons more durable, more steerable and harder to detect and track. People’s Liberation Army researchers have also been testing balloons as potential aerial platforms from which to fire weapons.

Even in this hitherto obscure corner of military innovation, China sees big stakes. Its military researchers warn that rival governments, above all the United States, could beat them at their own game. They especially worry about dominance in “near space,” the inhospitable layer of the atmosphere between 12 and 62 miles above earth.

The are numerous security concerns evidenced in this event.
 
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  • #140
strangerep said:
We have an increasing problem here with gangs of a-hole teenagers. Can we send them over to fight for the Russians? Please?
Isn't it more effective to have half fight on each side?
 

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