Sources familiar with the matter tell DailyExpertNews it appears that the suspected movements of China’s spy balloon seem to rely primarily on the jet stream, allowing Beijing to predict its likely path.
China can control the surveillance balloon to some extent, for example by turning the surveillance equipment inside it on and off, the sources said. The fact that China does have some control over the balloon’s capabilities is why the US government has raised its concerns with Beijing, the sources say.
What US Officials Say: The balloon’s monitoring equipment appears to be powered by a solar panel, said a US official, which would provide the high-altitude system with a reliable source of energy. But the solar panel does not appear to be connected to any type of motor that would allow China to drive the balloon, the official added.
Pentagon officials said they didn’t believe the balloon had surveillance or intelligence-gathering capabilities beyond Chinese spy satellites in low Earth orbit, but unlike satellites that rapidly fly over a location every 90 minutes, a spy balloon can fly over lingering in a place and gathering more a “life pattern” of a particular site, the official said.
In the past, the US has simply let these types of balloons fly without taking any action or announcing their presence over the US, the sources said. It is also not the first time that a surveillance balloon has appeared over the United States.
The US official said there had been similar incidents involving suspected Chinese surveillance balloons over Hawaii and Guam in recent years. On Thursday, a senior defense official said: “Instances of this activity have been observed in recent years, including prior to this administration.”
The US government now believes it has caught China’s attention over the balloon and the matter can be resolved quickly, the sources said.