US intelligence officials believe that the recently recovered Chinese spy balloon is part of an extensive surveillance program run by the Chinese military, according to multiple American officials familiar with the intelligence.
The surveillance program, which includes a number of similar balloons, is in part run out of the small Chinese province of Hainan, officials tell CNN. The US does not know the precise size of the fleet of Chinese surveillance balloons, but sources tell CNN that the program has conducted at least two dozen missions over at least five continents in recent years.
Roughly half a dozen of those flights have been within US airspace – although not necessarily over US territory, according to one official familiar with the intelligence.
And not all of the balloons sighted around the globe have been exactly the same model as the one shot down off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday, that official and another source familiar with the intelligence said. Rather, there are multiple “variations,” these people said.
The link to the broader surveillance program, which was uncovered before the latest balloon was spotted last week, was first reported by the Washington Post.
READ MORE: https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/07/politics/spy-balloon/index.html