back to article China's spy balloon barrage earns six of its companies a spot on US entity list

The US Department of Commerce added six more entities to its blacklist on Friday on grounds of national security after an errant Chinese surveillance balloon was shot down over the US last week. The DoC's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) tweeted: Commerce is adding entities in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to …

  1. Potemkine! Silver badge

    What we also know is that it could maneuver; that it had propulsion capability and steerage capability and could slow down, speed up

    I want pictures!

    1. Potemkine! Silver badge
    2. EricB123 Silver badge

      Pretty please

      At least a sketch.

  2. A random security guy

    Weather balloons over 40 countries

    China must really care about our sunny days vs. rainy days. Especially in the 40 countries we know of that have had these Chines weather apps.

  3. Lil Endian Silver badge

    US authorities have stated...

    ...they are monitoring for balloons with greater urgency

    Snotty nosed kids at fairgrounds across the globe rejoice, parents breathe a sigh of relief!

  4. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    99 Red Balloons

    As of the time of writing, 4 down, 95 to be shot down

    Is Nena big in China?

    1. Stephen Wilkinson

      Re: 99 Red Balloons

      I don't know but Alphaville are big in Japan!

    2. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

      Re: 99 Red Balloons

      Let's hope this ends better than in the song.

      99 years of war left no room for victors.

      There are no more war ministers nor any fighter jets.

      Today I'm making my rounds, see the world lying in ruins.

      I found a balloon, think of you and let it fly (away).

      (translation of the original German lyrics)

      1. MyffyW Silver badge

        Re: 99 Red Balloons

        Great song. The German lyrics are much more powerful than the English "translation"

        1. Lil Endian Silver badge

          Re: 99 Red Balloons

          The first LP I ever bought, cos, well, Nena in leather trousers!

          (Oh yeah, top album too!)

  5. DanceMan
    Thumb Down

    Pot and Kettle

    In 2019 China shot down a balloon accusing it of spying. Now they are crying foul over the US doing the same thing. Who do they think they are, Faux News?

  6. xyz Silver badge

    Wacky idea

    What if the Chinese had a heads up that ET was about to show up (the other 3 small objects that were shot down over the weekend) and the balloon was their "welcome wagon"?

  7. PhilipN Silver badge

    From the horse's mouth

    FBI official said about the debris it is too early to tell what it was for.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: From the horse's mouth

      They only have themselves to blame, it was obvious if the payload suffered a total lost of its floatation aid ie. balloon, then even from 20,000 ft it is going to hit the ground hard.

      The US are going to have to get better at in-flight capture and intercept at results in a more controlled descent.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: From the horse's mouth

        "from 20,000ft"

        After you get past a certain distance from the ground, if dropped you reach terminal velocity and stop accelerating before reaching the ground. That distance varies with the object dropped, but it's well under the height of all of the objects.

        "going to hit the ground hard."

        Yeahbut ... That balloon was rather large ... I would imagine the drag caused by the bits still attached to the hardware would have kept the hardware well below its unadorned terminal velocity.

        And no, the water, being uncompressible, wouldn't have cushioned the impact. Much.

    2. Bitsminer Silver badge

      Re: From the horse's mouth

      But apparently they already know who supplied the parts for it.

      I was kinda hoping the Chinese would "prove" it was a weather balloon by publishing the parts list and assembly diagram. But no.

      Oh wait, here is a Github account


      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: From the horse's mouth

        I suspect that is one of the reasons for using a missile and letting the object have a hard landing; with an array of broken fragments it is easier to claim it was something other than a weather balloon...

        But if the US actually want to gain anything useful they are going to have to land an intact object.

    3. Mayday
      Black Helicopters

      Re: From the horse's mouth

      "FBI official said"

      Said. Yes, that's what they _said_

      I'd bet that they knew what the thing could do based on a cursory glance when they pulled the thing out of the water. Even I could figure out what a camera, different shaped/sized antennae etc would be for just by looking at it.

    4. Reginald O.

      Re: From the horse's mouth

      FBI has become too secretive to be credible. They do their thing, regardless of all else. Literally.

  8. jake Silver badge

    One thing seems certain.

    Chinese surveillance satellites must be completely shit.

    That, or that's what they want us to think ...

    1. Spazturtle Silver badge

      Re: One thing seems certain.

      This whole event has shown us multiple things, that China's satellites are much worse then we thought, that they can't do in orbit interception (the US has at least one reusable space plane and Russia has a few interception satellites that can be used a few times each) and that they don't understand that other countries are run differently to China (they could have just purchased a small civil aviation plane in the name of a US citizen and put the equipment in the back and then flown over the sites legally).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One thing seems certain.

      Wonder if they could blend passive and active with this kit?

  9. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Do what we say, not as we do

    > "What we also know is that it could maneuver; that it had propulsion capability and steerage capability and could slow down, speed up; and that it – it was on a path to transit over sensitive military sites,"

    So, much like a U2 or SR-71. I feel there is much "pot calling the kettle black" in this latest situation.

    I wonder if Santa Claus be giving USA airspace a wide miss this coming christmas?

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Do what we say, not as we do


      Inflicting Bono on China or Russia is far more egregious than a bag of wind ...

      1. moonhaus

        Re: Do what we say, not as we do

        If there's one thing we've learnt from U2, it's that they always show up in your Itunes account without permission. This is just a small step on from that.

        1. MyffyW Silver badge

          Re: Do what we say, not as we do

          Well, we also know (thanks to Grant et al, 1994) U2 are not a submarine, although

          "Their music has a naval quality"

          (Get's her coat from the cupboard, not the one in Bernard and Lydia's room)

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Do what we say, not as we do

          One more reason to be thankful that I have never had an itunes account.

  10. ThatOne Silver badge

    Deja vu...

    > other objects that were flying and unidentified (there used to be a name for that …)

    I wish I could upvote that!

  11. Threlkeld

    Let me fly a kite ...

    Any kite-fighting enthusiasts out there?

    As I understand it, the object of this sport, which is practised in many countries, is to cut the opponent's kite-line. Normally, the losing kite is thus destabilised and flutters to the ground, but with a sufficiently long 'tail' of line dragging below it, it may be that some can go on flying indefinitely.

    How easy is it to see a long piece of thin string from a passing supersonic fighter?

    1. Lil Endian Silver badge

      Re: Let me fly a kite ...

      More importantly IMO is can a passing supersonic fighter tell the difference between an authentic Patang and "Hello Kitty"?

      [Right, we're off to La Brea Tar Pits.]

  12. Black Label1
    Black Helicopters

    Weather Forecasting Balloons

    Meanwhile, The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts and The World Meteorological Organization are silent.

    Won't they scream "For Chr1st sake, don't down all or weather forecasting balloons ?"

    Laughing here of this utter non-sense.

  13. To Mars in Man Bras!

    51st State

    Sigh! --anyone remember when El Reg used to be a British website?

    1. Ghostman

      Re: 51st State

      This has not been a total Brit site for a l-o-n-g time. I've been here for around 17 years, even done a few posts here and there. The site was recommended by a relative, started reading the articles, checking Odds and Sods quite frequently. Told some techie friends and coworkers about this great site that featured tech stories and humor about some tech problems we had all run into.

      Would you believe that some of the news reported on here isn't given in the US?

      I find it hard to believe that the Brits aren't on here more, but I guess the aging group that we are from the early days of computers, internet, networking, building, repairing, and fixing the problems that arise from the interface between the chair and keyboard is starting to get in it's dotage.

      Also, we from the USA have been supporting the advertisers by purchasing their products from time to time.

      Sometimes the phrase I ordered it from (name a store) since it was talked about on the Register came about, followed by the statement "You ordered that from England?"

      So we've helped keep the site open. You're welcome.

      PS: You'll have to get in line for that 51st state thing. Puerto Rico and a bunch of islands in the Pacific are ahead of you.

      1. Lil Endian Silver badge

        Get in line for that 51st state

        Erm, Puerto Rico can have it. I'm willing to forget the past and remain States-less thanks.

        [Mine's the one with SOAP in the pocket, I'm going for a REST.]

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: 51st State

        Personally, I followed STOB over here when she left DrDobbs ...

  14. MrDamage Silver badge

    Tinfoil hat time

    Someone is getting great value for money. One cheap balloon = Logistics intelligence on response times, attack patterns, which bases are responsible for which area etc, as well as whatever pics are taken.

    Bet the balloon costs a lot less than the missile fired at it too.

    1. Black Label1
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Tinfoil hat time

      "Bet the balloon costs a lot less than the missile fired at it too."

      Indeed this would be funny and effective. To deplete USA stockpile of missiles releasing hundreds of helium weather forecasting balloons with junk electronic parts below.

      Nice idea !

  15. Rustbucket


    They need a less destructive way of bursting the balloons. The AIM9 family of missiles are short range heat seekers. Since I doubt you'd get much of a signature from the balloon itself they must be targeting the payload.

    You know, the thing they're hoping to carefully analyze afterwards.

    1. Blank Reg

      Re: AIM9-X

      What they need is a much slower plane so that they can fill it with holes instead of blowing it to bits. unfortunately they have been too high for helicopters, maybe an ac130 gunship?

      And yes I know about the previous failed attempts to shoot down a wayward weather balloon, but these latest ones are reportedly much much smaller so they won't need too many holes to bring them down

      1. Lil Endian Silver badge

        Re: AIM9-X

        I'm thinking A-10. Yeah, the operational ceiling is too low for most of the targets, but even an inanimate object would crap itself knowing a Warthog was after it! Seeing one of those things fly defies visual comprehension, they just shouldn't be able to be up there, they appear to just hang in the sky. Amazing!

    2. Bebu Silver badge

      Re: AIM9-X

      "They need a less destructive way of bursting the balloons."

      They now have some pretty powerful lasers which I imagine could cut some small holes in the balloon and let it deflate (and descend) slowly.

      Or just vaporize it deathstar style.

      Have to be cheaper than a missile.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I knew it was a bad idea

    To order my ESP32 boards via Aliexpress drone delivery

  17. Reginald O.

    And thus, the Balloon Wars began...

    Shooting them ALL down for awhile makes political sense, at the moment. However, over the long term identification of true threats vs. nuisance devices seems necessary.

    Also, blasting the skies the 20mm cannon fire, rockets and missiles will eventually result in self inflicted injury. I propose a rocket powered high altitude recovery vehicle (HARVEE) launched from a chase helicopter that could go up there, look at the balloon, allow threat determination and if warranted latch on to it and ground it safely in a predetermined area.

    It would move like a quad-copter with rocket engines on outriggers, possibly hexagonal. Some kind of robotic arm to engage the balloons would seem necessary.

    NASA space landing vehicles seem like a good place to find already developed technology and engines to do this.

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