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Old 4th February 2023, 05:28 PM   #161
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
That's what I want to know.

sarge, where are you going with this line of reasoning? Are you going to conclude that, absent an authoritative cite, shooting down Chinese property over a US territory is some kind of brinkmanship? China could complain to the UNSC that shooting down their balloon in the upper atmosphere over Montana was an unjustified escalation and a breach of the principles of international law?
I entered the thread opining that this balloon is:

1. Not a threat to anything.
2. Is not a ‘spy balloon’.
3. Was not, when it crossed our land border, in US controlled airspace


Some posters started using “sovereign airspace’ and ‘territorial airspace’ in a way that indicates they believe these terms have meaning and are different than ‘controlled airspace’. I’m asking for an authoritative cite for this notion.

As for shooting down the balloon, I’ve given no real thought to whether or not it would be a permissible act under any of the dozens of treaties the US is signatory to that might apply. I have considered that shooting the thing down over land was never a prudent act. The balloon posed zero threat to us. It could not gather intel, it wasn’t going to drop a bomb or spray nerve gas, or do any of the other outlandish things bandied about in this thread.

After it left our land border, I can see two valid reasons for shooting it down. Doing so might eliminate the tiny risk that it would eventually land on someone or something. Doing so might send some message to the Chinese or any other nation that might attempt to transit our airspace contrary to our wishes - it demonstrates that we can shoot down balloons.

In short (too late, I know) I only cared to hear how the balloon above 60,000’ was in US jurisdiction. If there is such a thing as ‘sovereign’ airspace that isn’t identical to Controlled Airspace, I’d like to hear it specifically defined by upper and lower altitude limits.
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Old 4th February 2023, 05:31 PM   #162
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'm pretty sure the only thing that authoritatively defines US sovereign airspace is the US's ability to engage targets in that airspace. Regardless of whether the US decides to exercise that authority in specific cases, and regardless of whether the US deigns to codify that authority in some kind of formal statement or multilateral agreement.
Under that definition, would the US be as justified in shooting down each non-US satellite that crosses our land borders as it would have been shooting down the balloon when it was outside our controlled airspace but within our sovereign airspace?
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Old 4th February 2023, 05:34 PM   #163
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Originally Posted by Skeptical Greg View Post
If it wasn't anyone's sovereign airspace, what authority would prohibit anyone from shooting it down?
There are probably treaties we are party to that prevent us shooting down things that are not in anyones airspace and that present no threat to anyone or anything. I hope there are such anyway.
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Old 4th February 2023, 05:34 PM   #164
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I would like to suggest that "Sovereign Airspace" is the lack of stuff, that should be between the ears of "Sovereign Citizens".

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Old 4th February 2023, 05:37 PM   #165
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Originally Posted by sarge View Post
There are probably treaties we are party to that prevent us shooting down things that are not in anyones airspace and that present no threat to anyone or anything. I hope there are such anyway.
There is a 1967 treaty that prevents nuclear weapons in space. However, ASAT treaties are not in place; the US suspended testing, but China did a test fairly recently. The UN issued a "recommendation" last year on banning ASAT weapons, but good luck getting anything signed.
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Old 4th February 2023, 05:38 PM   #166
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Originally Posted by sarge View Post
Please provide an authoritative cite for the airspace that is outside controlled airspace but still within ‘sovereign’ airspace that defines the upper limits of ‘sovereign’ airspace.
Someone up-thread has already discussed that US airspace above flight level 600 is classified as Upper Class E Airspace and provided a link to the FAA page describing its management.

I have no idea why anyone would think that sovereign airspace would stop at FL 600.
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Old 4th February 2023, 05:43 PM   #167
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Originally Posted by jt512 View Post
Someone up-thread has already discussed that US airspace above flight level 600 is classified as Upper Class E Airspace and provided a link to the FAA page describing its management.

I have no idea why anyone would think that sovereign airspace would stop at FL 600.
I am a commercial pilot. I understand the FAAs authority over our airspace. I don’t have to look such things up…..and my experience gives me context that you don’t get from reading the top result in a Google search.

Have you yet found a cite for the notion that we have ‘sovereign airspace’ and can you describe its floor and ceiling? How is it different than controlled airspace and where does it begin and end. I’m not building a case here. Answer it if you are able. Don’t if you can’t or desire not to.
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Old 4th February 2023, 05:44 PM   #168
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Originally Posted by sarge View Post
I entered the thread opining that this balloon is:

1. Not a threat to anything.
2. Is not a ‘spy balloon’.
3. Was not, when it crossed our land border, in US controlled airspace


Some posters started using “sovereign airspace’ and ‘territorial airspace’ in a way that indicates they believe these terms have meaning and are different than ‘controlled airspace’. I’m asking for an authoritative cite for this notion.

As for shooting down the balloon, I’ve given no real thought to whether or not it would be a permissible act under any of the dozens of treaties the US is signatory to that might apply. I have considered that shooting the thing down over land was never a prudent act. The balloon posed zero threat to us. It could not gather intel, it wasn’t going to drop a bomb or spray nerve gas, or do any of the other outlandish things bandied about in this thread.

After it left our land border, I can see two valid reasons for shooting it down. Doing so might eliminate the tiny risk that it would eventually land on someone or something. Doing so might send some message to the Chinese or any other nation that might attempt to transit our airspace contrary to our wishes - it demonstrates that we can shoot down balloons.

In short (too late, I know) I only cared to hear how the balloon above 60,000’ was in US jurisdiction. If there is such a thing as ‘sovereign’ airspace that isn’t identical to Controlled Airspace, I’d like to hear it specifically defined by upper and lower altitude limits.
I'm coming around to your way of thinking. But what's your definition of controlled airspace?
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Old 4th February 2023, 05:46 PM   #169
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Originally Posted by slyjoe View Post
There is a 1967 treaty that prevents nuclear weapons in space. However, ASAT treaties are not in place; the US suspended testing, but China did a test fairly recently. The UN issued a "recommendation" last year on banning ASAT weapons, but good luck getting anything signed.
I have done no research at all on this question, so I am still just guessing. Still, I’d wager that the US is prohibited by treaty from just shooting down things that are not within its jurisdictional borders or posing a threat of some kind to some thing or persons.
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Old 4th February 2023, 05:53 PM   #170
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'm coming around to your way of thinking. But what's your definition of controlled airspace?
I use the US governments definition. The short version is that airspace is divided into classes and each class has its own restrictions and requirements to enter, and it is all very clearly defined as to what piece of sky is in which class of airspace. There is no debate or doubt about whether or not a particular part of the sky is in controlled airspace or the requirements for using that piece of sky. If you identify airspace by its location and altitude, I can identify what class of controlled airspace it is.

My question is for those that seem to be arguing that there is something besides controlled airspace called ‘sovereign’ or ‘territorial’ airspace that is subject to US Jurisdiction and is defined by the government. I’m asking for a cite for that definition and I’m asking for the floors and ceilings for these types of airspace.
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Old 4th February 2023, 05:55 PM   #171
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Quote:
Still, I’d wager that the US is prohibited by treaty.....
Treaty with who?
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Old 4th February 2023, 05:57 PM   #172
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Originally Posted by sarge View Post
There are probably treaties we are party to that prevent us shooting down things that are not in anyones airspace and that present no threat to anyone or anything. I hope there are such anyway.
No authoritative cite for such treaties? Oof.

And why the hope?

Things away out to sea or sky, with no treaty protecting them, are hardly the stuff of geopolitical conflict. China would be laughed out of the global realpolitik, if it seriously complained that its castaways were dismembered by the first predator to come across them.
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Old 4th February 2023, 06:00 PM   #173
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Originally Posted by sarge View Post
There are probably treaties we are party to that prevent us shooting down things that are not in anyones airspace and that present no threat to anyone or anything. I hope there are such anyway.
As an addendum to the above.

Who would enforce those treaties and what would the penalty be?

Sounds like we have violated one of those treaties if they exist..
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Old 4th February 2023, 06:01 PM   #174
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Originally Posted by Skeptical Greg View Post
Treaty with who?
Other nations of course.
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Old 4th February 2023, 06:02 PM   #175
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Originally Posted by sarge View Post
I am a commercial pilot. I understand the FAAs authority over our airspace. I don’t have to look such things up…..and my experience gives me context that you don’t get from reading the top result in a Google search.

Have you yet found a cite for the notion that we have ‘sovereign airspace’ and can you describe its floor and ceiling? How is it different than controlled airspace and where does it begin and end. I’m not building a case here. Answer it if you are able. Don’t if you can’t or desire not to.
What does being a commercial pilot tell you about the USAF's authority over US airspace? I bet it tells you nothing at all. Except that USAF trumps FAA authority anywhere the two collide and national security is in question.

In fact I bet that as a commercial pilot you have no idea how far USAF airspace authority actually extend, across the full spectrum of national security scenarios.
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Old 4th February 2023, 06:03 PM   #176
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Originally Posted by sarge View Post
I use the US governments definition. The short version is that airspace is divided into classes and each class has its own restrictions and requirements to enter, and it is all very clearly defined as to what piece of sky is in which class of airspace. There is no debate or doubt about whether or not a particular part of the sky is in controlled airspace or the requirements for using that piece of sky. If you identify airspace by its location and altitude, I can identify what class of controlled airspace it is.

My question is for those that seem to be arguing that there is something besides controlled airspace called ‘sovereign’ or ‘territorial’ airspace that is subject to US Jurisdiction and is defined by the government. I’m asking for a cite for that definition and I’m asking for the floors and ceilings for these types of airspace.
You're talking about FAA control.
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Old 4th February 2023, 06:05 PM   #177
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Originally Posted by Skeptical Greg View Post
As an addendum to the above.

Who would enforce those treaties and what would the penalty be?

Sounds like we have violated one of those treaties..
Before this goes off the rails into claims attributed me that I have not made:

I suspect that we party to treaties that prevent us from shooting down things that are not in our airspace and do not pose some risk.

For example, I honestly hope that it would violate some article of some international agreement (all such things are treaties) if we shot down an airliner over the Atlantic just because we have the means and opportunity to do so. Or that we can’t just start knocking satellite out of the sky with complete impunity.

What do you find objectionable about this position?
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Old 4th February 2023, 06:11 PM   #178
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
What does being a commercial pilot tell you about the USAF's authority over US airspace? I bet it tells you nothing at all. Except that USAF trumps FAA authority anywhere the two collide and national security is in question.

In fact I bet that as a commercial pilot you have no idea how far USAF airspace authority actually extend, across the full spectrum of national security scenarios.
USAF authority over US airspace is subordinate to the FAAs authority over US airspace. In fact, the USAF has no authority over US air space not granted to it by the FAA. In cases where a federal agency exercises operational control over airspace in lieu of the FAA exercising operational control, it is because the FAA has ceded that control.

When I want to fly over Pope Army Airfield (formerly PAFB), I don’t contact Pope approach for permission. I contact FAY departure/approach. The ATC controllers at military installations are primarily FAA employees, working for the FAA.
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Old 4th February 2023, 06:19 PM   #179
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Originally Posted by sarge View Post
Before this goes off the rails into claims attributed me that I have not made:

I suspect that we party to treaties that prevent us from shooting down things that are not in our airspace and do not pose some risk.

For example, I honestly hope that it would violate some article of some international agreement (all such things are treaties) if we shot down an airliner over the Atlantic just because we have the means and opportunity to do so. Or that we can’t just start knocking satellite out of the sky with complete impunity.

What do you find objectionable about this position?
I find nothing about it objectionable except the strawman regarding airliners and satellites.

If we are party to a treaty that covers this balloon, what can we expect as a result?
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Old 4th February 2023, 06:36 PM   #180
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Originally Posted by Skeptical Greg View Post
I find nothing about it objectionable except the strawman regarding airliners and satellites.

If we are party to a treaty that covers this balloon, what can we expect as a result?
There is no straw man. My comment that we might be party to treaties preventing us from shooting stuff down not in our airspace and not posing a threat was not confined to this balloon, nor did I attribute to you any notion that you were advocating for such a thing. I was speaking generally…that the US has probably agreed to not just shoot stuff down that isn’t in our airspace and isn’t a threat to anyone.

Specific to this balloon, at the moment it was shot down it was inside US controlled airspace without approval……I do not imagine any treaty would prevent such an act. Of course I’ve said nothing to indicate that I believe one would.

As for what results from violating a treaty generally, mostly denials by the guilty party followed by bluster and Sabre rattling by the aggrieved party.
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Old 4th February 2023, 06:52 PM   #181
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Originally Posted by sarge View Post
I am a commercial pilot. I understand the FAAs authority over our airspace. I don’t have to look such things up…..and my experience gives me context that you don’t get from reading the top result in a Google search.
It seems you do need to look it up, since you are ignorant of the Upper Class E airspace. Hopefully, as a commercial pilot, you are less ignorant of the airspace below FL 600.

Quote:
Have you yet found a cite for the notion that we have ‘sovereign airspace’ and can you describe its floor and ceiling? How is it different than controlled airspace and where does it begin and end. I’m not building a case here. Answer it if you are able. Don’t if you can’t or desire not to.
I've seen several websites discuss it. Sovereign airspace begins at the ground. There is no international agreement as to its ceiling, but it sure as hell is a lot higher than FL 600. You have now twice ignored that it has been brought to your attention that US airspace above FL 600 is designated as Upper Class E Airspace. Since you are a pilot, I don't have to explain to you what Class E airspace is, right? Look for the link or just google "Upper Class E Airspace."

Not "definitive," but it is infinitely more than you've given us: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airspa...tical_boundary

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Old 4th February 2023, 07:33 PM   #182
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Originally Posted by Segnosaur View Post
Embarrassment?

Or maybe the people making the "it's not ours" claims didn't have all the information? (Fog of war... Or fog of ballooning.) Certainly wouldn't be the first time a government made a statement that was wrong because the spokesman didn't talk to the right People.

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Official Chinese policy was that it wasn't Chinese. Until it was.
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Old 4th February 2023, 07:37 PM   #183
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Oh, I had forgotten about how much trouble the Soviets got into for shooting down the US spy plane in 1960. It was flying well above the altitude any Russian aircraft could reach, so the Soviets were found quilty of violating international treaties allowing such flights in uncontrolled airspace.

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Old 4th February 2023, 07:47 PM   #184
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Originally Posted by sarge View Post
If you identify airspace by its location and altitude, I can identify what class of controlled airspace it is.
OK. Let's see how you do: 62,000 feet MSL over the control tower of KDET.
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Old 4th February 2023, 07:50 PM   #185
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Originally Posted by sarge View Post
There is no straw man. My comment that we might be party to treaties preventing us from shooting stuff down not in our airspace and not posing a threat was not confined to this balloon, nor did I attribute to you any notion that you were advocating for such a thing. I was speaking generally…that the US has probably agreed to not just shoot stuff down that isn’t in our airspace and isn’t a threat to anyone.
How is the balloon not posing a threat ? It's unmanned, non-communicating, mostly uncontrolled, and for the long time of unknown origin. You have no idea if it is dangerous or not. At very least, it can simply fall down. And it would certainly be preferable if you could control where it happens.
But it could be straight out attack on US, and should be treated as such, at least as long as it's on unknown origin.
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Old 4th February 2023, 07:53 PM   #186
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Once again, China knew exactly where it was launched, where it came from, its path through China, over Japan, Canada, and when it entered US Airspace.

China has officially agreed it entered US airspace, so this questioning about it not being in US airspace is moot. Both parties, China and US agree it passed into US Airspace. End of.

In order to have passed through China, it would have had to pass through the 80% of military controlled airspace. Therefore it contains tracking ability, and was being actively tracked by the Chinese state and military. Therefore China knew its path, and knew it was entering Japanese, Canadian and US airspace.

Does that mean it was a spy balloon? No. It could indeed be a weather monitoring balloon. But that doesn't mean China didn't know where it was going, because they most definitely did.

So, why didn't China let the US know before it created an international incident?

It could well be to see the US response, see how fast it was picked up, etc. All useful information that could help Chinese military planning, without it ever needing to be an actual spy balloon. Could even be a happy accident, from their point of view.

Could be deliberate.

Could be a spy balloon.

Either way, China knew exactly what was happening and chose not to tell the US.

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Old 4th February 2023, 08:08 PM   #187
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Originally Posted by ZiprHead View Post
According to the Washington Post, the balloon fell in relatively shallow water (<50 feet deep).
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Old 4th February 2023, 08:18 PM   #188
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Originally Posted by sarge View Post
Specific to this balloon, at the moment it was shot down it was inside US controlled airspace without approval…
According to the NY Times, the balloon was above 60,000 feet when it was shot down, but you said that controlled airspace topped out at FL600. Make up your mind: either the US shot down a Chinese balloon outside of US airspace (probably in violation of international law) or US airspace extends above FL600.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/04/u...shot-down.html
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Old 4th February 2023, 08:19 PM   #189
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A reply on my Facebook feed: "Wonder why they didn't shoot it down over Alaska?"

A non-reply on my part -- not opening that can of worms: "I could give you several reasons, but you probably would have heard them if you didn't solely watch FOX News."
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Old 4th February 2023, 08:33 PM   #190
TellyKNeasuss
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Originally Posted by sarge View Post
No, it obviously is not.

And you omit that the ballon entered over our borders at an altitude above our controlled airspace.
What does "controlled" have to do with this issue? As far as I have been able to determine, there are no treaties specifying what the upper limit of a nation's airspace is. But I doubt that you will find any nation that defines the upper limit to be an altitude lower than the maximum operating altitude for balloons.
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Old 4th February 2023, 10:24 PM   #191
Thermal
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So do we owe China a new balloon or what?

Data gathered by weather balloon:

When balloons wet, it is raining.
When balloon is moving fast, it's windy.
When balloon is violently shot, it is over the American South.
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Old 4th February 2023, 11:17 PM   #192
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Originally Posted by GraculusTheGreenBird View Post
Once again, Chin6a knew exactly where it was launched, where it came from, its path through China, over Japan, Canada, and when it entered US Airspace.

China has officially agreed it entered US airspace, so this questioning about it not being in US airspace is moot. Both parties, China and US agree it passed into US Airspace. End of.

In order to have passed through China, it would have had to pass through the 80% of military controlled airspace. Therefore it contains tracking ability, and was being actively tracked by the Chinese state and military. Therefore China knew its path, and knew it was entering Japanese, Canadian and US airspace.

Does that mean it was a spy balloon? No. It could indeed be a weather monitoring balloon. But that doesn't mean China didn't know where it was going, because they most definitely did.

So, why didn't China let the US know before it created an international incident?

It could well be to see the US response, see how fast it was picked up, etc. All useful information that could help Chinese military planning, without it ever needing to be an actual spy balloon. Could even be a happy accident, from their point of view.

Could be deliberate.

Could be a spy balloon.

Either way, China knew exactly what was happening and chose not to tell the US.
When I worked at GCHQ back in the 70s I spent a couple of years in the ELINT division, analysing tapes of recordings of the emissions of Russian radar systems. These were mostly obtained by a specially outfitted RAF aircraft which would fly up and down the Baltic, deliberately triggering those systems so their positions and capabilities could be determined.

It's entirely possible that this was a meteorological balloon and the equipment it seems to have been bristling with was entirely for that purpose, but it's also possible that it wasn't.

I have no idea what does or doesn't qualify as US airspace, but I can certainly understand why shooting it down would seem like a wise precaution.
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Last edited by Pixel42; 5th February 2023 at 12:13 AM.
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Old 4th February 2023, 11:18 PM   #193
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So when's the next balloon? You can never shoot down just one.
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Old 4th February 2023, 11:25 PM   #194
TheGoldcountry
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
So when's the next balloon? You can never shoot down just one.
They did say that an hour after shooting it down, they wanted to shoot down some more.
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Old 5th February 2023, 12:11 AM   #195
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Old 5th February 2023, 12:52 AM   #196
jt512
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Originally Posted by Pixel42 View Post
It's entirely possible that this was a meteorological balloon and the equipment it seems to have been bristling with was entirely for that purpose, but it's also possible that it wasn't.
The media have been reporting from the outset that the US military were quite sure that it was a surveillance balloon, and also that they were confident that there was not much intelligence of value that the balloon was capable of acquiring, especially given that the military was apparently already deploying countermeasures against it. So, reading between the lines, it sounds like US intelligence knew to a high degree of accuracy what payload that balloon was carrying. I think it, then, highly likely that that balloon was conducting surveillance.

The real question then is, why would China send a low-capability, easily detectable surveillance balloon into US airspace over at least one highly sensitive military target on the eve of a major diplomatic summit with the US? One possible answer is that they were testing to see how strongly the Biden administration would react. If so, they got their answer. Reportedly, they sent 3 or 4 such balloons over the US during Trump's administration and he didn't do anything.

Last edited by jt512; 5th February 2023 at 12:58 AM.
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Old 5th February 2023, 12:53 AM   #197
rjh01
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Originally Posted by sarge View Post
Please provide an authoritative cite for the airspace that is outside controlled airspace but still within ‘sovereign’ airspace that defines the upper limits of ‘sovereign’ airspace.
Originally Posted by Skeptical Greg View Post
If it wasn't anyone's sovereign airspace, what authority would prohibit anyone from shooting it down?
Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
That's what I want to know.

sarge, where are you going with this line of reasoning? Are you going to conclude that, absent an authoritative cite, shooting down Chinese property over a US territory is some kind of brinkmanship? China could complain to the UNSC that shooting down their balloon in the upper atmosphere over Montana was an unjustified escalation and a breach of the principles of international law?
Originally Posted by novaphile View Post
I would like to suggest that "Sovereign Airspace" is the lack of stuff, that should be between the ears of "Sovereign Citizens".

The question has been asked. It appears that certain members of this forum are not willing to do a bit of research of their own to find out the answer. This is ok. So I decided to do a bit of research myself. If anyone wants to argue anything other than what is stated below I expect them to give better references than what I have given.

Quote:
There is no international agreement on the vertical limit of state sovereignty. Today, the need to settle this gap in the law is growing in importance.
https://aviation.stackexchange.com/q...ional-airspace


Quote:
That said, the vertical extent of national airspace is a matter of debate. A logical upper limit is the point where outer space begins, as outer space is not subject to national laws. However the boundary is also a matter of debate:
https://politics.stackexchange.com/q...reign-airspace


Quote:
There is still no international legal definition of the demarcation between a country's air space and outer space
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%A1rm%C3%A1n_line
Sourced from https://www.google.com.au/books/edit...sec=frontcover
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Old 5th February 2023, 01:01 AM   #198
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Originally Posted by jadebox View Post
Oh, I had forgotten about how much trouble the Soviets got into for shooting down the US spy plane in 1960. It was flying well above the altitude any Russian aircraft could reach, so the Soviets were found quilty of violating international treaties allowing such flights in uncontrolled airspace.
Is that what happens when you have a patchwork of regulations?
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Old 5th February 2023, 02:06 AM   #199
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Apology if already posted. Someone was lucky and made pictures with his Nikon D5500 and 70-300mm from a good angle:

You can easily identify the F-22

https://twitter.com/astroqv/status/1...s-with-missile
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Old 5th February 2023, 04:53 AM   #200
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YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
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