China’s top airship scientist first sent a high-altitude balloon called the ‘Cloud Chaser’ over North America FOUR years ago travelling 65,000ft up
- Chinese media said a high-altitude craft flew round the world in 2019 at 65,000ft
- The project’s lead scientist, Wu Zhe, said the aircraft was named ‘Cloud Chaser’
- It comes as the US air force shot down three UFOs in as many days this weekend
Chinese aeronautics engineers boasted about sending high-altitude devices over US airspace almost four years before American fighter jets shot down a suspected spy balloon on February 4.
Chinese scientist Wu Zhe in 2019 told state media that he and his team had successfully sent an airship called ‘Cloud Chaser’ on a round-the-globe flight which saw it pass over the mainland US at an altitude of 65,000ft.
At the time the scientist claimed such high-altitude devices could be used to provide early warnings of natural disasters, monitor pollution or carry out airborne surveillance, according to the New York Times.
A still from a video in 2019 showed a map of the world with a red line tracing its way across the globe and crossing over North America, which Wu claimed showed the trajectory of his Cloud Chaser.
The discovery of Wu’s boasting comes nine days after a Chinese high-altitude balloon was shot down off the coast of South Carolina, while US fighter jets downed three UFOs in as many days this past weekend.
A computer rendering of a Chinese airship that floated over the mainland US in 2019 is pictured
This screenshot from a video broadcast in Chinese state media shows the trajectory the Chinese craft allegedly took around the world
A suspected Chinese spy balloon is seen before it was shot down off the coast of Garden City, South Carolina, U.S. February 4, 2023
‘This is the first time that an aerodynamically controlled stratospheric airship has flown around the world at an altitude of 20,000 meters (65,000ft),’ Wu said at the time.
This is believed to be Wu Zhe, a Chinese aeronautics professor who masterminded the Cloud Chaser project
The scientist described Cloud Chaser as a ‘big guy’ about 100 meters long and weighing several tons.
Wu’s boasting all but confirms suspicions that China has engaged in a lengthy surveillance programme, using slow-moving, high-altitude devices to float over the mainland US.
The Chinese balloon shot down by the US on February 4 was equipped to detect and collect intelligence signals as part of a huge, military-linked aerial surveillance programme that targeted more than 40 countries, the Biden administration declared on Thursday, citing imagery from American U-2 spy planes.
This led the air force to recalibrate its radar to detect slower moving objects, air force general Glen VanHerck said. Since the recalibration, three as yet unidentified objects have been discovered over Alaska, Canada and the northern US.
‘At this point we continue to assess every threat or potential threat, unknown, that approaches North America with an attempt to identify it.
‘With some adjustments, we’ve been able to get a better categorization of radar tracks now, and that’s why I think you’re seeing these, plus there’s a heightened alert to look for this information,’ VanHerck said.
The UFO detected Sunday was described by defense officials as an unmanned ‘octagonal structure’ with ‘potential surveillance capabilities’ and strings attached to it.
An F-16 fighter jet shot it down from around 20,000ft over the Great Lakes at 2:42pm – after two other crafts were destroyed over Alaska and Canada on Friday and Saturday.
The UFO shot down over Alaska has not yet been recovered, though analysts said it was about the size of a car.
The one shot down over Canada was shaped like a cylinder, officials said.
The suspected Chinese spy balloon drifts to the ocean after being shot down off the coast in Surfside Beach, South Carolina, U.S. February 4, 2023
China in return on Monday claimed 10 US high-altitude balloons have flown in its airspace without its permission during the past year.
Timeline of recent UFO sightings over US airspace
Wednesday, February 1: Chinese balloon is spotted above Montana (not a UFO as air force identified it as a balloon)
Saturday, February 4: Chinese balloon is shot down off the coast of South Carolina after having drifted across the country
Thursday, February 9: First UFO is detected off coast of northern Alaska
Friday, February 10: UFO is shot down over Deadhorse, Alaska
Saturday, February 11: Second UFO is shot down over Mayo, Yukon, Canada.
FAA shuts down airspace over Montana citing another possible UFO, but NORAD claims it was a ‘radar anomaly’
Sunday, February 12: Third UFO is detected over the Great Lakes and shot down
The Chinese allegation came after the US shot down the Chinese spy balloon that had crossed from Alaska to South Carolina, sparking a new crisis in bilateral relations that have spiralled to their lowest level in decades.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin gave no details about the alleged US balloons, how they had been dealt with, or whether they had government or military links.
‘It is also common for US balloons to illegally enter the airspace of other countries,’ he said at a daily briefing.
‘Since last year, US high-altitude balloons have illegally flown over China’s airspace more than 10 times without the approval of Chinese authorities.’
Wang said the US should ‘first reflect on itself and change course, rather than smear and instigate a confrontation’.
China said the balloon shot down by the US was an unmanned airship made for meteorological research that had been blown off course.
It has accused the US of overreacting by shooting it down and threatened to take unspecified action in response.
Following the incident, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelled a visit to Beijing which many had hoped would put the brakes on the sharp decline in relations over Taiwan, trade, human rights and threatening Chinese actions in the disputed South China Sea.
Also on Monday, the Philippines accused a Chinese coast guard ship of targeting a Filipino coast guard vessel with a military-grade laser and temporarily blinding some of its crew in the South China Sea, calling it a ‘blatant’ violation of Manila’s sovereign rights.
Wang said the Philippines ship had trespassed into Chinese waters without permission on February 6 and that Chinese coast guard vessels responded ‘professionally and with restraint’.
China claims virtually all of the strategic waterway and has been steadily building up its maritime forces and island outposts.
‘China and the Philippines are maintaining communication through diplomatic channels in this regard,’ Wang said.
China’s Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a question about the incident.
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