The Navy has launched a recovery operation to secure debris from a Chinese spy balloon that drifted over the US and Canada. The balloon was shot down over the ocean near South Carolina.

Analyst Comment: Balloons like this are capable of carrying hundreds to even a few thousand pounds of payload. The big danger of these types of devices over alternatives like satellites, is they allow for a wider variety of sensor information to be collected, most notably, radio waves. The ionosphere blocks most radio waves from leaving the atmosphere, and radio signals are an extremely valuable source of intelligence.

Additionally, these balloons could be used to conduct kinetic operations by carrying explosives or biological hazards that are released in the target country. The fact that the Biden admin and Pentagon allowed the balloon to drift across the US before disabling it is incredibly reckless, especially given that they could not have known for sure what the payload contained until it was recovered.