Blowing Up The Balloons

Fox News: “On Thursday, a report by Aviation Week offered an intriguing hypothesis about what one of those three objects could be: a ‘missing in action’ globe-trotting balloon belonging to an Illinois-based hobbyist club.

Per the report, the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade‚Äôs (NIBBB) silver-coated, party-style ‘pico balloon’ reported its last position on Feb. 10 at nearly 40,000 ft. off the west coast of Alaska.”

CNN: “President Joe Biden said there is no evidence of a ‘sudden increase in the number of objects in the sky.'”

Analyst Comment: Shockingly I think Biden is correct, but the truth is not flattering. The Military has been in the midst of upgrading radar systems which allow for detection and tracking of smaller, slower objects, which previously would have been undetectable on many military radar systems. Combine that with my suspicion that internally, the Chinese spy balloon incident was a major embarrassment for the Pentagon and the Biden admin, there is now heightened pressure on NORAD to find and disrupt similar threats, which led to the downing of benign, small-scale, commercial or hobby balloons. Recovery of these objects would be difficult due to their small size, and the true nature of the devices would cause even more embarrassment, so there isn’t much of an incentive for the Pentagon to actually recover what they shot down.

This fact highlights how unprepared NORAD is to defend US airspace against a variety of balloon-based threats, especially small-scale threat: NORAD’s infrastructure and aircraft apparently have no ability to discriminate between foreign spying device or a legal hobbyist device. That is a huge problem in the age of microelectronics and drones.

Further, this undermines Biden’s argument that 2nd amendment supporters who believe they can overthrow the government are delusional because they would need F-15s. Apparently all they really need is balloons, and NORAD will waste $400k missiles shooting them out of the sky.

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