The Chinese balloon launched over the coast of the US state of South Carolina on February 4 was indeed able to collect sensitive information. Various sources report this to the American channel NBC News.
In February of this year, the world was under the spell of suspicious objects over North American skies. On February 4, an American F-22 fighter jet shot down a large white balloon. A Chinese spy balloon, the United States declared. China has always denied that and spoke of a weather balloon. Nevertheless, the discovery of the balloon certainly caused a lot of tension between the two countries.
After further investigation, the United States found that the balloon, first spotted over Alaska on January 28, could gather information. China could steer the balloon to fly over some locations multiple times and collect real-time information sent to Beijing. That’s what three US officials told NBC News.
The information China gathered in this way mainly came from electronic signals from weapons systems or communications from personnel at military bases. There would be no images.
According to the three officials, China could have gathered much more intelligence on sensitive sites if the US government had not intervened.
After that first Chinese balloon was shot down, three other objects appeared in North American airspace. Its origin and function are not yet clear. Suspicious objects were also spotted above Japanese, Canadian, and Romanian airspaces during that period.