The Chinese spy balloon that crossed much of the country's mainland in February may have collected information on multiple military sites. As two senior U.S. officials and a former top administration official told NBC News on Monday, China guided the balloon to pass over some sensitive national security sites several times.
According to officials, the balloon transmitted live information directly to Beijing . These were mostly electronic signals that probably included communications from the military bases or information from the weapons systems inside them.
NEW: Chinese spy balloon that flew across the U.S. was able to gather intelligence from several sensitive American military sites, according to U.S. officials. https://t.co/HqgnAP2uOa
— NBC News (@NBCNews) April 3, 2023
Questioned on the matter, the Defense Department referred NBC News to comments senior officials made in February reiterating that the balloon had "limited additive value" for intelligence gathering by the Chinese government. A Defense Department spokeswoman said she could not confirm that the balloon had transmitted any information back to China in "real time."
National Security Council spokesman Kirby John declined to respond Monday afternoon to questions about what kind of electronic signals or communications the balloon might have accessed.
The U.S. military shot down the balloon over the Atlantic Ocean on February 4. The remains were fully recovered almost two weeks later.