Welcome to the UFO wars
The strange new skies are buzzing with balloons and drones, and the U.S. is scrambling to catch up.
A bizarre high-tech battle has suddenly broken out in the skies all over the world. In the week since the U.S. shot down China’s big spy balloon, three smaller objects have been shot down — a cylindrical object over Alaska on February 10th, another cylindrical object over Canada on the 11th, and an octagonal object over Lake Huron on the 12th. Other spy balloons have been spotted all over the world. China, meanwhile, has accused the U.S. of sending its own spy balloons over its territory, and threatened to shoot down an unidentified object near Qingdao and possibly another near Shandong.
This may come as a disappointment to the sci-fi enthusiasts out there, but the U.S. and China aren’t cooperating to defeat an invasion by space aliens. What’s happening here is that for years, China was flying spy balloons over the U.S., which people were mistaking for UFOs (or UAPs, as they’re now called), and the U.S. was either intentionally or unintentionally letting them pass. One theory is that there are simply a lot of balloons up there, and the U.S. military didn’t want a bunch of false alarms. Another is that the U.S. simply failed to have its radars keep track of slow-moving objects. But whatever it is, the massive uproar over the big spy balloon obviously prompted the U.S. to get serious about detecting and downing the floating intruders.
Anyway, if you want to read more about the spy balloons, I recommend reading the work of Tyler Rogoway, who was shouting about this topic long before most people were paying attention. Here’s a good thread about the recent intrusions, with some links to some earlier articles he’s written:
Rogoway emphasizes that balloons aren’t the only strange thing zipping around the modern skies. Drones, and drone swarms, are also important. Both balloons and drones command regions of the air that the 20th century technologies of jets and satellites largely left empty — the former occupy the “near space” region above where airplanes traditionally fly, and the latter command the space below 2000 feet.
In other words, the entire sky is now a contested space. Especially low to the ground, the U.S. no longer has the ability to deny access to China’s unmanned aerial forces. Swarms of probably-Chinese drones buzz U.S. Navy ships and nuclear power plants in Arizona. The head of U.S. Special Operations Command summed it up when he said: “I never had to look up before”.
Anyway, welcome to Cold War 2 — it’s only going to get stranger from here. And just as in Cold War 1, when the U.S. reoriented its economy to ensure parity with the Soviets in the aerospace industry, we’re going to have to make big changes to keep up with China in the drone race. Unfortunately, right now the U.S. has either fallen behind China, or risks falling behind, in almost every key emerging industry and technology involved in that race.
Drones are the convergence of three technological revolutions
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