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Meet the New Boss…

January 10th, 2014 - 9:48 am

chinaballoon

Last week, a privately-owned hot air balloon from China went down into the East China Sea, just south of the disputed Senkaku Islands. The pilot was quickly rescued and that should have been the end of that.

Except:

While the cooperation of the Japanese, Taiwanese, and Chinese agencies’ efforts in rescuing Xu Shuaijun is to be commended, this incident should have the Japanese Defense Ministry worried.

Although the flight has been disassociated from the Chinese government, with the pilot described simply as a “balloon enthusiast,” it remains that an aircraft launched from China flew more than 220 miles directly for Japanese soil, and was never detected by the Japanese military. This balloon was not equipped with stealth technology (although the propane tanks and burners do provide a small radar cross-section), did not fly at low altitudes, and did not fly at night when observation would be difficult.

Instead, the balloon was launched at 7am, flew at altitudes of more than ten thousand feet, and spent more than six hours cruising towards Japanese territory in a giant, rainbow-colored balloon.

Nearly 30 years ago a young German man named Mathias Rust landed a Cessna on Moscow’s Red Square — and inadvertently gave Mikhail Gorbachev the political clout he needed to get rid of some deadwood officers and put reformers in their places.

Now Japan isn’t the Late Soviet Union, desperate to find ways to loosen the military’s grip on the country’s resources. Japan is however led by its first explicitly nationalist Prime Minister since Douglas MacArthur gave Hideki Tojo the boot in 1945.

Interesting, yes?

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All Comments   (7)
All Comments   (7)
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Sounds like a progressive wet dream version of warfare. Almost no carbon footprint, no noise pollution, wind driven, organic construction, aimless, supported entirely of hot air.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
A hot air ballon is stealthy really. As well as the below mentioned fact that radars today electronically exclude returns that don't match their target profiles.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Range gate. Radar was programmed to ignore any returns indicating a velocity of a balloon (or bird), so it never showed up on the display.

@kjanders:

Japanese balloon bomb killed a woman and 4 kids along on a church picnic outing in Oregon. Only casualties inflicted directly on the US by Japan (before you launch, in 1941 Hawaii was a territorial possession and not part of the US proper).
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Could it be rather that the JSDF systems are programed to ignore slow moving aircraft made of mostly nylon and wicker? Much like the USN's Phalanx system is programed not to shoot at aircraft moving perpendicular to the ship below a certain speed because it's a friendly helicopter.

After all, scrambling a pair of f-15Js is very expensive.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Too high to be spotted visually, too small and slow to trigger air defense radar.

A hot air balloon is the perfect way to penetrate an air defense network. As long as things like steering aren't important to you.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Japanese tried to penetrate US airspace during the war w/ balloons. Though they were able to do it, all they accomplished was, I think, injuring a couple picnickers in Oregon.

Again, not really worth scrambling a couple F-15s over.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
The idea was to use incendiary bombs to start wildfires, diverting resources from the war effort and striking a blow to morale. They forgot that the Pacific Northwest is rather...damp. In the end they only managed to kill a couple of school kids and a teacher on a nature hike.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
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