The spy balloon that China is using in the United States and Latin America, an Intelligence tactic since 1794

The spy balloon that China is using in the United States and Latin America, an Intelligence tactic since 1794

The accusations by the governments of the United States and Canada about the presence of an alleged Chinese spy balloon in their respective territories have once again brought the news to the fore. a system for gathering intelligence information that resists disappearing in the face of strategies more modern and less invasive such as the use of satellites.

The first recorded use of hot air balloons for military purposes dates from 1794, during french revolutionary warsand arrived in the United States in the following century, coinciding with the Civil War. They could reach a thousand feet in altitude, something more than 300 meters, and served to observation tasksas recorded in a historical report by the US National Park Service.

At that time they were considered cheap, inconspicuous and virtually unreachable tools from the groundalthough its real explosion came already in the 20th century, during the First World War, and also in stages such as the Cold Warwhen the political struggle waged by the Soviet Union and the United States also extended to the field of Intelligence and technological progress favored the absence of crew.

The use of satellites made balloons partly obsolete, but their use would have resurfaced. In fact, the US Department of Defense would also have increased in its most recent stage the investment in this type of systemas pointed out by the news portal Politico in 2022.

Smaller and harder to track

Analyst Peter Layton, from the Griffith Asia Institute in Australia, explains that the miniaturization of technological equipment encourages the use of balloons, which weigh less “they can be smaller, cheaper and easier to launch” than satellites, reports CNN.

Another expert, Blake Herzinger, from the American Enterprise Institute, also points out that this type of system leaves little trace, which therefore makes it difficult to trace. The satellites are against more predictable, since they depend on following the same orbit.

Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder

Compared to satellites, balloons offer the advantage of concentrating on the same territory for a longer time and, being located within the earth’s atmosphere, they have another type of range. In fact, Layton hypothesizes that the last balloon detected in the United States could be gathering information on communication systems and radarsinaccessible from space.

According to the Pentagon, the alleged Chinese balloon flew over Montana at more than 40,000 feet, about 12,000 meters, and It did not pose any risk to the population or to air navigation. The authorities have not given details about the technical characteristics of the balloon, although its size would have discouraged any possible demolition due to the possibility of debris raining down on populated areas, reports the agency. Bloomberg.


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