High Flying Balloon Over US Had Military Purposes as Part of China’s Air Strategy to Test Enemy Air Defences


Defence Industry

Tel Aviv: The Chinese balloon that was detected over the US and shot down by an F-22 fighter aircraft should not have surprised Washington. China in the past pointed to the use of high flying balloons for military purposes.

In April 2022, the China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) published a paper that focused on “special aircraft” and concluded that balloons could be used by the military to test enemy air defences. This according to a translation of the paper by MEMERI, the Middle East Media Research Institute,  a non-profit press monitoring and analysis organisation co-founded by former Israeli military intelligence officer Yigal Carmon.

According to this report, following the US’s February 4, 2023 downing of the Chinese spy balloon over the Atlantic Ocean, the balloon had crossed over the country over the course of a week and official Chinese media said that the incident confirmed that airships can be part of China’s air strategy and mocked the US for spending over $1.4 million to pop a $50 balloon.

According to the report in China, social media users also commented on the incident and said that “An Unmanned Airship Causes The Collapse of Myth of the North American Air Defence systems.”

The Chinese article translated by MEMERI points to a paper published in April 2022 by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) focused on “special aircraft” and concluded that one of the useful military applications of balloons would be to “suppress enemy air defence early warning systems and shield air attack forces to carry out their missions.”

It stated, “(Balloons can) induce and mobilise the enemy’s air defence system, providing the conditions for the implementation of electronic reconnaissance, assessment of air defence systems’ early warning detection and operational response capabilities. In response to the growing threat posed by ground-based air defence systems to air attack forces, it is necessary to use cheap air balloons to create active and passive interference to effectively suppress enemy air defence early warning systems and shield air attack forces to carry out their missions.”