West News Wire: One reference shifts the focus to China and its alleged spy balloons after a number of allegations about Russia and Ukraine emerged in the US intelligence leaks. In addition to the surveillance balloon they shot down in February, the most recent Pentagon leak discloses that US authorities were aware of up to four additional Chinese surveillance balloons.
The Chinese spy balloon known as Killeen-23, which flew over the United States this year, reportedly carried a variety of sensors and antennas that the US government had not yet identified more than a week after shooting it down, according to a document that Jack Teixeira, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, is alleged to have leaked on a Discord chatroom.
The 21-year-old Teixeira was detained on Thursday and charged with espionage on suspicion of leaking multiple top-secret papers.
According to Washington Post, the reports into the Chinese spy balloon did not go into detail regarding the exact time the balloons were released.
Other balloons that were mentioned in the documents include “Bulger-21” and “Accardo-21.”
The balloon which was first hit by US in February is designated as “Killeen-23” in the leaked documents. It is unknown if the “Bulger-21” and “Accardo-21” balloons mentioned in the records were the same ones that sailed over the US carrier group or fell into the South China Sea.
The surveillance balloons were named alphabetically, from A to Z, and after notorious criminals such as mobsters Tony Accardo and Donald Killeen.
Earlier, annotated images of Killeen-23 in a National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) document unearthed the most crucial details of the Chinese spy balloon.
Post citing, US officials said the balloon could produce enough power to run “any” surveillance system, including a radar that could see through clouds and thin material. Bulger-21 was equipped with cutting-edge surveillance technology and travelled the world from December 2021 to May 2022, according to officials.
Analysts noticed that Accardo-21 featured identical hardware as well as a “foil-lined gimbaled” sensor. In response to the Post’s revelation, the Pentagon and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment.
The Chinese spy balloon saga also carries a domestic political weightage. Republicans had harshly criticised the President Joe Biden’s administration in February for failing to deflate the Chinese spy balloon in a timely manner. They claimed that this gave the Chinese government more time to snoop.