A new report said the Chinese spy balloon that was shot down Saturday off the South Carolina coast was not the first of its ilk to saunter around American airspace.
Four months ago, a balloon crashed into the sea off the coast of Hawaii, Fox News reported, citing unnamed U.S. officials.
The Fox News report also said that during the Trump administration, Chinese spy balloons crossed parts of Texas and Florida, a claim former President Donald Trump disputed.
“This never happened. It would have never happened,” Trump said Sunday.
“It never happened with us under the Trump administration and if it did, we would have shot it down immediately. It’s disinformation,” he said.
A February 2022 report in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser includes an image of a balloon that appears similar to the one that dawdled across American skies last week.
Feb 2022, Air Force scrambles F-22’s in Hawaii bc of a high-altitude “unmanned balloon without observable identification markings.”
— Alexis De Popeville (@JohnPaulThee3rd) February 3, 2023
As noted by The Drive, the Department of Energy and Sandia National Laboratories operate a rocket launch range on Kauai, which is also the location of the Pacific Missile Range Facility.
At that time, the adjutant general of Hawaii posted a summary of events on Twitter.
“In regards to aerial activity over Kauai on 2-14:U.S. Indo-Pacific Command detected a high-altitude object floating in air in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands. In accordance with homeland defense procedures, Pacific Air Forces launched tactical aircraft to intercept and identify the object, visually confirming an unmanned balloon without observable identification markings,” the tweet read.
identify the object, visually confirming an unmanned balloon without observable identification markings. As part of our normal daily operations, we closely track all vessels and aircraft in the Indo-Pacific area of operations through a combination of joint capabilities 2/3
— Kenneth S Hara (@HawaiiTAG) February 17, 2022
The report cited a paywall-protected story from the Star-Advertiser in which Kauai County Councilwoman Felicia Cowen said she heard loud explosions on the day the jets went to check on the object.
An Air Force representative was later quoted as saying nothing was shot down the day.
In their piece on The Drive last year, Brett Tiglery and Tyler Rogoway added some of their opinions.
“There is a deep history of balloons being used to collect intelligence, especially on radar and communications systems. We believe this is going on today in America’s critical training areas offshore of the U.S. mainland. This coincides with what is emerging to be a renaissance of sorts when it comes to militaries using balloons as platforms for sensors, communications relays, electronic warfare systems, and even to launch other craft or payloads,” they wrote.
“It’s also worth noting that normally, F-22s aren’t scrambled to intercept weather balloons or other high-flying lighter-than-air craft. The suspicious location of this balloon likely played a factor in the scramble,” they continued.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.