The spy balloons set out by China across the United States earlier this year gathered and sent back information from a number of key American military sites despite numerous reassurances from Pentagon officials stating that it had blocked all transmissions, as explained by a recent NBC News report.
This new report, which makes reference to two current American officials and one former administration official, explained that the previous spy balloon was being directly controlled by China, which was able to move it in such a way as to make a number of passes across quite a few military sites, sometimes in a figure-eight pattern -- the entire time transmitting in real-time this information back to Beijing. The three officials have stated that the data obtained by China was primarily electronic signals which could be collected and recorded from weapons systems or even communications in the base.
When the National Security Council was pushed for a response from NBC reporters, the news outlet was quickly told to see the remarks made in February by the Department of Defense, where officials claimed the balloon possessed "limited additive value" to China "over and above what [China] is likely able to collect through things like satellites in low earth orbit."
Pentagon officials stated to legislators back in February that very little new information had been gathered by utilizing the Chinese spy balloon because of U.S. measures to protect sensitive intelligence, as explained by CNN.
While the balloon was able to move across the country freely for a week back in late January before being taken down, the officials claimed that the communist nation could have gathered even more intelligence if the Biden administration had not finally taken action to shift possible targets around to disrupt the gathering of intelligence.
The State Department previously stated that the spy balloon had the ability to gather intelligence. The balloon sailed out over Montana, the home of a nuclear missile silo field at Malmstrom Air Force Base. It then shifted its flight path so it could be allowed to get info from a number of other highly sensitive military sites. The whole time, China made the claim that it was just a civilian airship.
The balloon ended up being taken down over the Atlantic Ocean by a U.S. Military F-22 Raptor.