Was China’s ‘Spy Balloon’ Just Blown Off Course?

China appears to have suspended its global surveillance balloon program after a balloon was spotted drifting over the United States in February.

But now an anonymous reader shares this report from CBS News:
Seven months later, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tells “CBS News Sunday Morning” the balloon wasn’t spying. “The intelligence community, their assessment — and it’s a high-confidence assessment — [is] that there was no intelligence collection by that balloon,” he said.

So, why was it over the United States? There are various theories, with at least one leading theory that it was blown off-track. The balloon had been headed toward Hawaii, but the winds at 60,000 feet apparently took over. “Those winds are very high,” Milley said. “The particular motor on that aircraft can’t go against those winds at that altitude…”

After the Navy raised the wreckage from the bottom of the Atlantic, technical experts discovered the balloon’s sensors had never been activated while over the Continental United States. But by then, the damage to U.S.-China relations had been done.
On the CBS News show Sunday Morning, the host had this exchange with America’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

CBS: “Bottom line, it was a spy balloon, but it wasn’t spying?”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “I would say it was a spy balloon that we know with high degree of certainty got no intelligence, and didn’t transmit any intelligence back to China.”

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