China’s balloons are everywhere



From @KathrinHille: “#Taiwan has observed dozens of Chinese military balloon flights in its airspace in recent years, far more than previously known, adding to concerns that Beijing could be preparing for an attack on the country.”

“They come very frequently, the last one just a few weeks ago,” said a senior Taiwanese official. Another person briefed on the matter said such incursions were happening on average once a month.

Other countries in the region, including Japan and the Philippines, have observed balloon incursions into their airspace, but their governments have given little detail.

Taiwanese government officials said the Chinese balloons observed in Taiwan’s airspace normally fly at about 20,000ft, much lower than the one that traversed the US, and are made from a different material.

But the Taiwanese officials said the balloons’ dimensions and payload put them outside the scope of ordinary weather balloons allowed to cross other countries’ airspace without prior approval under international law.

According to officials who deal with military and intelligence issues in three Asian countries, the balloons observed over Taiwan were developed by the Equipment Development Department, the division in charge of weapons systems under China’s Central Military Commission.

“Some of the balloons are fielded by the PLA Air Force and some by the Rocket Force,” said one Taiwanese official, adding that military aircraft were regularly sent up to observe the balloons.

“All sorts of atmospheric specifics such as air pressure and density at the time can affect the accuracy of a missile after re-entry into the atmosphere, and tiny errors will be magnified a lot because of speed,” said Kitsch Liao.

He added that the same problem applied to over-the-horizon radar, long-range systems that China needs for operations in the waters and airspace east of Taiwan.





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