What are “spy balloons” and why are they used?

This latest debate between the United States and China has once again drawn the world’s attention to espionage balloons and the role of ancient technology in modern times.

Experts believe that the use of balloons for surveillance and surveillance in the world of espionage has a long history and even today their use for espionage has some important advantages and features.

Recently, a white balloon floating in American airspace caused an international stir. China said that it was their balloon that was released into the air to collect climate data, while the US claimed that this balloon was sent to US airspace by China to monitor sensitive places of America for espionage purposes.

This latest debate between the United States and China has once again drawn the world’s attention to espionage balloons and the role of ancient technology in modern times.

On Saturday, a U.S. fighter jet shot down a Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina, U.S. officials said, adding that the search for the device installed in the Chinese balloon is underway, after studying and observing it, china’s intentions can be said in detail.

On the other hand, China is calling it a serious violation of America’s "overreaction" and "international etiquette" that further complicates the political situation.

Why do governments use balloons for surveillance or surveillance?

Professor Ann Boyd of the Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder says that these balloons are usually released into the atmosphere to study weather patterns, modern ‘guiding apparatus’ are also installed to control their direction and travel, but for spying. The usefulness of cannot be denied either.

He said that from the point of view of espionage, satellites are only able to assess things from the top level under certain procedures, but these balloons can also collect things compared to high-speed satellites rotating at a very low level. They are capable of gathering clear information, including deeper and clearer images, as a high-speed satellite orbits the world in a span of 90 minutes.

According to Professor Boyd, there is another satellite that has the ability to take continuous pictures from one place in line with the speed of the earth’s rotation in its orbit, but that satellite is present at a considerable distance from the earth, due to which its images are not very clear.

According to Derosh, a professor of near-east, South Asia strategic studies at the National Defense University Washington, these surveillance balloons are capable of collecting electronic signals and obstructing communication compared to satellites.

According to Professor Derosh, the Chinese balloon dropped by the United States may also contain devices that are capable of collecting information about what kind of signals the United States uses. Therefore, it can be said that it will be able to track radar signals and such information can actually be useful for China to attack the United States.

U.S. officials have not released details of the technology used in the balloon, but they say a Chinese balloon as large as three buses entered U.S. airspace from Alaska on January 28. Authorities believe it was a spy balloon and that the balloon had "motors and propellers" mounted on it that could control its direction. A senior U.S. official said he believed the balloon was monitoring sensitive U.S. defense facilities.

U.S. officials were trying to ensure that the balloon did not pose a threat to air traffic, the public, or any property on earth, initially believing that the balloon would not be capable of providing any more information to China than the already existing satellite key.

Us officials have revealed that the entry of foreign balloons into US airspace has become relatively common in recent years, an official of us defense agencies told the media that even during the tenure of former US President Donald Trump, Chinese spy balloons entered US airspace three times.

U.S. officials also revealed that another Chinese balloon was also seen in South American airspace last week before the balloon.

What is the history of spy balloons?

The earliest example of balloons being used for spying dates back to the 19th century, when the balloon was used by france for spying by its crew during the Franco-Austrian War of 1859. Soon after, during the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865, they were used for espionage by the crew on balloons.

Even during the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865, they were used for espionage by staff on balloons — photo: file

The use of these balloons for espionage became very common during The First and Second World Wars. After the war, these balloons were used by Japanese forces to drop fire bombs on American soil. In these attacks, Japanese forces could not do any damage to their defense targets, but some civilians were killed in these explosions and a balloon crashed in the Oregon forests.

After World War II, the United States began to explore the capabilities of spying on high altitude balloons and this led to a series of missions called "Project Genetics". According to official documents, in the 1950s, photographic balloons were also flown over the borders of the Soviet bloc.


Author: DoctorMaryam.org

3rd Professional Medical Student. Karachi Medical and Dental College.

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