Chinese balloons were spotted near US bases during Trump’s eraChineseChinese balloons were spotted near US bases during Trump’s era

Alleged Chinese spy balloons were spotted on several occasions during President Donald Trump’s administration, including three times when they traveled near sensitive US military facilities and training areas, according to people familiar with the matter.

Read alsoPray 2024? Most Democrats say no thank you: AP-NORC poll

The balloons were spotted near Texas, Florida and Hawaii, as well as the Pacific island of Guam, where the US maintains naval and air force bases — according to people who asked for anonymity to discuss intelligence issues. The balloons also flew near Norfolk, Virginia, and Coronado, California — two ports where the US bases its prized aircraft carriers.

The balloons flying over Guam and Norfolk were thought to have radar jamming, while the flights near Norfolk, where the US station’s carriers were, came around the time China launched its own ship.

The balloons at Norfolk and Coronado both flew at a lower altitude over the ocean, but within U.S. airspace, according to officials who served during the Trump administration.

But the balloons also differed significantly from the alleged Chinese spy balloon that crossed the country last week — past key missile and research facilities — before being shot down over the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday.

Read also– Investigation of Secret Documents Highlights Biden Family Penn Ties

The planes spotted during Trump’s term were smaller in size and only briefly detected in US airspace. They were first categorized as “unidentified aerial phenomena” by intelligence officials, only to later be identified as balloons. The reviews indicated they were from China, but were not definitive.

Only after the balloon program continued during President Joe Biden’s administration, allowing the intelligence community to collect more intelligence, did the US definitively determine that some of the devices were Chinese military assets. The White House — which declined to comment on new details about balloons seen during the Trump administration — began briefing Congress last August about China’s surveillance balloon program.

In a briefing Monday, Gen. Glen VanHerck, head of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, said Norad had failed to detect earlier balloons, but that he later learned about it from the U.S. intelligence community, which “raised us of those balloons that are more likely to approach North America or travel through North America.”

Read also- ‘Four more years’: Biden hints at 2024 as he gathers Democratic Party leaders in Philadelphia

“I will tell you that we have not detected those threats. And that’s a domain consciousness gap that we need to sort out,” he said.

Similar cases

The additional revelations from the previous balloon sightings come as the White House and Trump point the finger at last week’s balloon incident and the administration’s decision to wait days to bring down the plane.

While Biden faces strong criticism from Republicans, his administration has pointed to similar instances where a Chinese plane allegedly flew over American land when Trump was president. The two political rivals are headed for a potential rematch of their bitterly contested 2020 presidential race.

Trump and some senior administration officials have denied that a balloon entered the US skies during his time in the White House. In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Trump accused his successor of claiming that Chinese overflights occurred during his term because “they look so bad.”

“This never happened,” he said. “It never would have happened.”

Other members of the Trump administration say they knew about balloons — but that the information may not have gotten to the president’s level because they didn’t fully understand the scope of the surveillance program.

Read alsoHouse ousts Ilhan Omar from Foreign Affairs panel

Historical patterns

A senior Biden official said balloons were only seen for a short time during the Trump era and that additional information about the program was discovered after Biden took office. And Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said Monday that the U.S. government could better understand the Chinese program as it gathered more information.

“We were able to go back and look at the historical patterns and that led us to understand that there were multiple times during the Trump administration that these surveillance balloons crossed US airspace and US territory,” Sullivan said during a US Global Leadership Coalition. “As you mentioned, there were multiple instances of these surveillance balloons crossing US airspace and US territory.”

Biden officials said the Chinese had improved the capacity, range and communication capabilities of their balloons in recent years. They also described the unique challenges of tracking and discerning aircraft information.

“To track, you have to run the traps along many different lines of information and technology,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Monday. “Their dynamics there, their orbit, their flight behavior complicates the ability to know exactly where someone is at any given point in time, depending on where it was when it first showed up.”

The evolving account of when and how the US became aware of China’s balloon program may help explain the seemingly contradictory claims made by Biden and Trump administration officials.

Delayed trip

Still, in recent days the White House has defended the decision to allow the balloon to travel unrestrained across the United States for days before finally blasting it across the ocean. The espionage fiasco led to the postponement of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s long-awaited trip to China — the highest U.S. delegation to China in five years — and has sparked a new round of tensions between the U.S. and China.

Read also– The correction in the housing market, as told by 4 charts

Some House Republicans have proposed a resolution condemning Biden’s response to the balloon, while House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said he planned to hold hearings in the flapper.

“I will demand answers and hold the trustee accountable for this embarrassing display of weakness,” the Texan Republican said. tweeted Saturday.

Biden administration officials say they are confident they were able to take countermeasures to prevent China from gathering valuable intelligence during that time, though they have so far declined to say what steps they took. They have also argued that the extended flight allowed them to obtain additional information about the balloon espionage program, and that they expect remains of the balloon — some of which have already been recovered from the ocean surface — to provide additional information.

“That gave us a great opportunity to get a better understanding, to study the capabilities of this balloon, what it can and cannot do,” Kirby said. “And we’ll continue to learn from that as we salvage chunks of the Atlantic Ocean floor.”

Read also– How to save $10,000 in a year: 10 steps

China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning reiterated at the press conference in Beijing on Tuesday that the balloon the US shot down was for civilian use and that the intrusion into US airspace was “accidental”.

When asked if her nation wanted the destroyed plane back, she said, “The airship does not belong to the US. It’s from the Chinese side.”

The Latest

To Top