Two months after the U.S. military shot down several aerial objects including a Chinese spy balloon, leaked documents reveal that there were at least three other spy balloons, including one that flew over an American carrier group.
The news, first reported by the Washington Post, comes from military documents leaked online. The accused leaker, Air National Guard member Airman Jack Teixeira, allegedly leaked them in a Discord chat to win arguments. He was arrested Thursday, April 13 and is currently facing charges under the Espionage Act.
A trio of documents included in the leak offer more information on the Chinese spy balloons. One of the documents, dated Feb. 15 and more than a week after the United States Air Force shot down the balloon that flew over the continental United States — dubbed Killeen-23 — mentions that as of the writing of the document, the U.S. had not figured out all of the sensors on the balloon. The U.S. Air Force shot down the balloon on Feb. 4.
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Another mentions Accardo-21 and Bulger-21, the former which had a “foil-lined gimbaled sensor,” and the later which went around the planet between December 2021 and May 2022, per the Washington Post. A third document mentions that one balloon crashed into the South China Sea while another flew over an American carrier group. It’s not clear if those two balloons are Accardo-21 and Bulger-21.
Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement to Task & Purpose that the Pentagon did not have a comment on the Washington Post’s report. He pointed to previous news from the Department of Defense that four other spy balloons had flown over the United States or its assets prior to the one in January.
The naming of the balloons in the documents uses a theme of noted criminals, such as James “Whitey” Bulger.
The military and American intelligence community had previously said that there were previous spy balloon flights over U.S. territory, three during the Trump administration and one other during the Biden administration. It’s not clear if the ones listed in the leaked documents are the ones from those instances. The military is currently reviewing past unidentified aerial objects to see if there might be additional previous spy balloons.
The documents were prepared after the United States shot down Killeen-23 and then an additional three other objects over a span of Feb. 10-12. Those included objects that flew into Canadian airspace after passing through Alaska and one that flew over Lake Huron. Another aerial object was shot down over Alaska on Feb. 10. That one appears to have been a hobby balloon belonging to the the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade, which said that it had lost track of one over Alaska at the same time the Air Force shot the aerial object down.
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