A Chinese reconnaissance balloon, previously shot down by the US military off the coast of South Carolina, was equipped with electronic intelligence equipment, such balloons flew over more than 40 countries. This is reported by The New York Times, citing a State Department document.
The administration of US President Joe Biden said the balloon is part of a global surveillance program led by the Chinese military. The US military sent planes to track and study the balloon before a fighter jet shot it down over the Atlantic Ocean. According to the administration, Chinese spy balloons have flown over more than 40 countries on five continents; they are made by one or more companies that officially sell products to the Chinese military.
The State Department also denied the Chinese government's claim that the balloon was a civilian meteorological apparatus that had gone off course. The visible equipment of the balloon included antennas and did not match the equipment installed on board the meteorological balloons - it was intended for reconnaissance surveillance.
Investigators from the Pentagon, the FBI and other agencies are examining the wreckage that the US Navy recovered from the water off the coast of South Carolina. According to the FBI, most of the electronics are scattered across the ocean floor. The departments will have to find out what kind of information the balloon could collect.
A Chinese reconnaissance balloon was spotted over the United States in early February. Initially, the Pentagon said they did not intend to shoot it down. The department explained that the ball could cause damage if it fell in a residential area, and representatives also argued that, in terms of intelligence, China already has similar information thanks to its satellites. However, later the United States nevertheless shot down the balloon, after which the Chinese authorities protested about this. Then a similar balloon hovered over Latin America. Beijing admitted that both this balloon and the device shot down in the USA belong to the PRC.