A new NBC News report has noted that the Chinese surveillance balloon which traversed across the U.S. for days before being shot down off the coast of the Carolinas in February had managed to gather intelligence from sensitive military sites.
According to the report China had been able to receive the information from the balloon as soon as the information had been gathered, according to two senior U.S. officials and a former senior administration official.
Beijing would have been able to use the electronic signals from the balloon in order to immediately access the information despite the Biden administration’s attempts to limit the balloon’s ability to pick up the relevant signals. These attempts greatly reduced the amount of sensitive intelligence that had been gathered during the balloon’s presence over the country.
The balloon was brought down following President Biden’s order. However, before it was brought down the balloon had traveled across the U.S. which has increased the concerns about the intel that it might have been able to gather.
Beijing has repeatedly claimed that the balloon in question was a civilian weather balloon that had drifted off its course; they have also claimed that the U.S. overreacted by having the balloon brought down. However, defense officials have pointed out that the balloon specifically crossed over a number of sensitive U.S. sites and military areas.
Despite the U.S. efforts, it is likely that Beijing was still able to gather intelligence information from the balloon during its time floating across the U.S.