Unidentified Objects/Balloons Intercepted by US aircraft

City firefighters tend to sit around the station 24/7 (they do live there) doing naff all, waiting for a call to come in.
And you don't want calls to come in, because that's more expensive for everyone, and lives may be lost. But you also don't want to not pay the firefighters for doing naff all, because if you don't have them when you need them, it gets even more expensive.
This just makes me think about how I've never heard anyone moan about the cost of saving cats from trees.
 
An interesting page here about radar signatures. Particularly important are doppler signatures from moving parts in the motors, which can help to identify the make and model of an unknown aircraft.
Ya that is what I am saying. I know a lot of this military radar technology is super classified, but a lot of the basics are in the public domain. Radar is probably way more advanced that what the public knows. That is a perfect example of a secret I WANT the government to keep.

But just using public domain information you can sort of guess what is operational in the most advanced phased array radars with massive AI computers analyzing and interpreting the data. We know synthetics aperture radar can scan surfaces and get very detailed 3D images. I have heard our most advanced space radars can even identify incoming ICBMs and distinguish between real vs dummy warheads. The F-35 has the most advanced radar I think. But even the F-15s that launched out of Portland OR that intercepted the object/objects in Montana had upgraded phased array radars I think. I suspect you can learn a lot about the object based off the radar signature. Hell I bet the FAA radar would even contain some useful data re. signature.
 
We know synthetics aperture radar can scan surfaces and get very detailed 3D images.
Use a source, Arthur!
A synthetic-aperture radar is an imaging radar mounted on a moving platform.[SUP][10][/SUP] Electromagnetic waves are transmitted sequentially, the echoes are collected and the system electronics digitizes and stores the data for subsequent processing. As transmission and reception occur at different times, they map to different small positions. The well ordered combination of the received signals builds a virtual aperture that is much longer than the physical antenna width. That is the source of the term "synthetic aperture," giving it the property of an imaging radar.[SUP][5][/SUP] The range direction is perpendicular to the flight track and perpendicular to the azimuth direction, which is also known as the along-track direction because it is in line with the position of the object within the antenna's field of view.
1200px-Synthetic_Aperture_Radar.svg.png

• The new NORAD radar system you mentioned previously is stationary, which means it can't do that
• The resolution of these radars is such that a small object would be a dot, unless you have an application where the radar is really close to the object.
• The radar on fighter jets is used for tracking, not for imaging.

Hell I bet the FAA radar would even contain some useful data re. signature.
No, it doesn't.



I know a lot of this military radar technology is super classified, but a lot of the basics are in the public domain. Radar is probably way more advanced that what the public knows. That is a perfect example of a secret I WANT the government to keep.
This is not a license to engage in wishful thinking. Find actual information!
 
Use a source, Arthur!
A synthetic-aperture radar is an imaging radar mounted on a moving platform.[SUP][10][/SUP] Electromagnetic waves are transmitted sequentially, the echoes are collected and the system electronics digitizes and stores the data for subsequent processing. As transmission and reception occur at different times, they map to different small positions. The well ordered combination of the received signals builds a virtual aperture that is much longer than the physical antenna width. That is the source of the term "synthetic aperture," giving it the property of an imaging radar.[SUP][5][/SUP] The range direction is perpendicular to the flight track and perpendicular to the azimuth direction, which is also known as the along-track direction because it is in line with the position of the object within the antenna's field of view.
View attachment 64318

• The new NORAD radar system you mentioned previously is stationary, which means it can't do that
• The resolution of these radars is such that a small object would be a dot, unless you have an application where the radar is really close to the object.
• The radar on fighter jets is used for tracking, not for imaging.


No, it doesn't.




This is not a license to engage in wishful thinking. Find actual information!
I would note some caution with your first bit here. The first predominate operational use of SAR was imaging targets related to the Soviet Union for the military, primarily off satellites and aerial reconnaissance flights. Use of SAR in that regard is still very common practice in counter deception and a major area of focus for signature management & OPSEC surrounding strategic R&D programs. The very first use of SAR imagery was from a device attached to aircraft called the Douser.
https://www.majumderfoundation.org/Study_Purdue/SAR_Wiley.pdf
From about August to the end of the year, we flewDOUSER in a DC-3. We replaced a wingcap with aspecial cap containing a Yagi at 930 MHz. It was spacedoff the true wing end by a quarter wave. There may havebeen a director as well. The beam was about 1000 wide;it was beam-sharpened to about 1°.

Some of the SR71s were also outfitted with SAR imaging capabilities
sensor620.jpg

The issue, that has seen development getting past it, was using it to track and monitor moving targets rather than just stationary targets. This has been something well surpassed in the last decade.
https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/7172443
With the novel method, moving target signals highly aliased in Doppler can be reconstructed and the targets' motion parameters and actual positions can be estimated with high accuracy. A special matched reconstruction filter bank (MRFB) is introduced and incorporated into two novel low PRF ground moving target indication (GMTI) algorithms. Owing to the application of the MRFB, GMTI and HRWS SAR imaging can be performed simultaneously without the need of a separate high PRF system operation mode, which, so far, was necessary for achieving a reasonable GMTI performance. With the MRFB, the advantages of the HRWS imaging principle, i.e., the wide swath and the high resolution are preserved for both HRWS SAR imaging and GMTI. Potential applications are wide-area land and maritime traffic monitoring, where the benefit of the preserved high resolution could, for instance, be used for generating high-quality inverse SAR (ISAR) images for target recognition purposes.


Further, yes, the FAA does collect information that would be considered "signatures". Signature(s) have a wide definition and can include many types, for example, there are categories outside electromagnetic signatures such as administrative signatures that would relate to things like planning documents, personnel information, etc.
 
External Quote:
The unidentified flying object[5] was described as cylindrical, silver, and appearing to float.[6] It was detected by U.S. radar at 9 p.m. AKST on February 9 and U.S. Northern Command sent an E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft to track it, supported by inflight refueling.[3] Two flypasts were conducted, one on the evening of February 9 and the other on the morning of February 10.[7] F-35 fighter jets deployed from Eielson Air Force Base as well as F-22 fighter jets from Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson (JBER) to make a visual inspection found it was uncrewed.[3][8]
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2023_Alaska_high-altitude_object

My biggest issue with the idea that this object in Alaska could be a Pico Balloon is the fact that this object was tracked with radar and FLIR. Setting aside whether radar alone could identify the object based off signature; seems radar combined with FLIR would easily identify a pico balloon. Radar can determine distance of object from F-35 and the FLIR can than determine size/shape. All of that data is recorded, so even if the pilot could not immediately identify it in real time, it is highly likely that the analysis of the data collected by the F-35 would be able to get a positive identity.
 
I would note some caution with your first bit here.
I don't understand? You seem to not contradict me at all.

Further, yes, the FAA does collect information that would be considered "signatures".
We were talking about radar signatures specifically, not IFF or administrative signatures.

The issue, that has seen development getting past it, was using it to track and monitor moving targets rather than just stationary targets. This has been something well surpassed in the last decade.
https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/7172443
External Quote:
With the novel method, moving target signals highly aliased in Doppler can be reconstructed and the targets' motion parameters and actual positions can be estimated with high accuracy.
And that's what we established before: radar can determine a location, and, over time or via Doppler, a speed. And radar can be used for tracking.
 
Setting aside whether radar alone could identify the object based off signature; seems radar combined with FLIR would easily identify a pico balloon.
These objects may be identifiable in the future, since the DoD now has (some of) the signatures; but it is unlikely that the Air Force and Navy have ever bothered collecting pico-balloon and toy balloon signatures in the past, since they have never before been seen as a 'threat'.

Before the Chinese Balloon incursion, all such objects were routinely filtered out of ground radar returns, and they literally couldn't see them - which might explain why the Navy pilots have been so puzzled about Bart Simpson and Batman balloons off the East coast.
 
These objects may be identifiable in the future,
Yes that is what Kirkpatrick was saying

External Quote:
So, we're running a campaign and have been for the last year or so on here's what a weather balloon looks like in an F-35 when you fly it at Mach 1 in all of the sensors. Here's what it looks like on from Aegis, and then take all that data and turn it into models that we can then put back into the trainers so that the operators can understand what they're looking at.
AARO Director Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick Holds an Off-Camera Media Roundtable Oct. 31, 2023
Source: https://www.defense.gov/News/Transc...patrick-holds-an-off-camera-media-roundtable/

But it should also be true that you could retroactively identify pico balloons using this radar signature method. All that raw radar data back when these shootdowns were happening is for sure preserved IMHO.
 
But it should also be true that you could retroactively identify pico balloons using this radar signature method. All that raw radar data back when these shootdowns were happening is for sure preserved IMHO.
Except that (just about) every pico balloon has different characteristics, because they are all designed by small groups or even individuals in some cases.

Ashampoo_Snap_2021.11.23_13h33m37s_023_.png

hadimg_fosdem_balloon_feat.jpeg

images
 
Regardless the radar can determine distance, and combined with FLIR you can determine size. Does anybody here think NORAD did NOT determine the size of the 3 smaller objects positively?
That entirely depends on whether the aircraft radar was able to lock on such a potentially weak radar return. We know that with the leaked Navy FLIR videos, a radar lock was apparently not available.
 
I do not expect a greater ice thickness in 2023 compared to 1999-2000, given the costant warming trend of the globe (2023 will probably set the new hottest year record). So, I would expect a sea ice thickness of about 1m or even less in the neighborhood of Prudhoe Bay in early February 2023 (if someone can get better data, they're welcomed).

I have no clue about how sea ice resists impacts (nor the characteristics of the impactor), but it does seem quite possible to me for an object 'about the size of a small car' impacting one meter-thick ice at, say, 200-300 km/hour (typical terminal velocities in air), to bore through the ice and disappear in the sea below (yet again, if someone has better informations they're welcomed).

I am fairly certain an object of that size could not be both light enough to be a balloon (as seems to be the case) and heavy enough to penetrate 1 m of ice. I am also fairly certain that it would take very little for the debris of a balloon of that size to go missing on snow-covered sea ice. This is speaking mostly from personal experience with snow, snowdrift and ice. People who are not used to it often underestimate how quickly something can get covered by snow even if it's not currently snowing.
 
I am fairly certain an object of that size could not be both light enough to be a balloon (as seems to be the case) and heavy enough to penetrate 1 m of ice. I am also fairly certain that it would take very little for the debris of a balloon of that size to go missing on snow-covered sea ice. This is speaking mostly from personal experience with snow, snowdrift and ice. People who are not used to it often underestimate how quickly something can get covered by snow even if it's not currently snowing.
How hard is it to identify a Pico Balloon with ground radar, AWACS radar plane, flyby by 2 F-35's and flyby with 2 F-22's? This claim that the 3 objects shot down are Pico Balloons is very weak IMHO. The only evidence I have seen to suggest that they were Pico Balloons was a report from a club saying one of their Balloons went dark in the general region/time of the Alaska shootdown. That could have been the result of co-incidence or perhaps due to electronic warfare being applied.
 
How hard is it to identify a Pico Balloon with ground radar, AWACS radar plane, flyby by 2 F-35's and flyby with 2 F-22's? This claim that the 3 objects shot down are Pico Balloons is very weak IMHO. The only evidence I have seen to suggest that they were Pico Balloons was a report from a club saying one of their Balloons went dark in the general region/time of the Alaska shootdown. That could have been the result of co-incidence or perhaps due to electronic warfare being applied.
Do you have any evidence to support any of your claims?
 
I am fairly certain an object of that size could not be both light enough to be a balloon (as seems to be the case) and heavy enough to penetrate 1 m of ice. I am also fairly certain that it would take very little for the debris of a balloon of that size to go missing on snow-covered sea ice. This is speaking mostly from personal experience with snow, snowdrift and ice. People who are not used to it often underestimate how quickly something can get covered by snow even if it's not currently snowing.
If the sea ice looks like this, it certainly could.
IMG_2244.jpeg
 
depends on whether the aircraft radar was able to lock on
There is a difference between a radar "weapons lock" and just a radar track. It is much easier to track a object than to get a "lock on". But obviously they DID get a weapons lock because they shot a sidewinder at it.
 
There is a difference between a radar "weapons lock" and just a radar track. It is much easier to track a object than to get a "lock on". But obviously they DID get a weapons lock because they shot a sidewinder at it.
The minute you stop sourcing your stuff...
The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a short-range air-to-air missile, which means it is shot from an aircraft to hit another aircraft. It is heat seeking, which means it locks on to something that is hot.

No radar lock required to use a Sidewinder. Thus, possibly no range data, and therefore possibly no accurate size.
 
The minute you stop sourcing your stuff...
The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a short-range air-to-air missile, which means it is shot from an aircraft to hit another aircraft. It is heat seeking, which means it locks on to something that is hot.

No radar lock required to use a Sidewinder. Thus, possibly no range data, and therefore possibly no accurate size.

Jumping in to pre-empt the complaint that a balloon isn't hot so how could a heat seeking missile target it.
Aim-9 targeting is based on contrast so the balloon only needs to appear a different temperature to the background.

The imaging seeker is built around a focal plane array imaging device, analogous to the CCDs employed in modern television cameras. A focal plane array has a much greater instantaneous field of view than a reticle seeker, and 'stares' at the target and its immediate background, tracking the target by means of a contrast lock similar to that employed by TV guided weapons such as Maverick or GBU-15. In this fashion, the seeker can account for the background contrast and reject it, while also providing the potential to discriminate between multiple targets and countermeasures such as flares. Conventional pulse jammers have no effect.
 
No radar lock required to use a Sidewinder
Ok fine. Sidewinder does not require a radar "weapons lock" I thought it did but guess not. Regardless I don't think it is in dispute that all 3 of these objects were tracked by radar. My point stands that if the ground radar picked up the object in Alaska it is safe to assume that the F-35 would also be able to pick it up on it's radar. Radar+FLIR=100% determine size of object. Officially it was described as the "size of a small car" but we don't know if that was based off the visual examination of the pilots or analysis of radar and FLIR data.

External Quote:
The Department of Defense said it was the size of a small car and flying northeast at approximately 40,000 feet (12,000 m), posing a risk to civilian flight.
2023 Alaska high-altitude object wiki
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2023_Alaska_high-altitude_object
 
Yes.

I already posted it on #245 re. AWACS/F-35s/F-22
You said:

How hard is it to identify a Pico Balloon with ground radar, AWACS radar plane, flyby by 2 F-35's and flyby with 2 F-22's? This claim that the 3 objects shot down are Pico Balloons is very weak IMHO. The only evidence I have seen to suggest that they were Pico Balloons was a report from a club saying one of their Balloons went dark in the general region/time of the Alaska shootdown. That could have been the result of co-incidence or perhaps due to electronic warfare being applied.
Where is the evidence of electronic warfare being applied?
 
My point stands that if the ground radar picked up the object in Alaska it is safe to assume that the F-35 would also be able to pick it up on it's radar.
This was not true for the older Navy sightings, so I don't think it's safe to assume at all. And I told you that 5 hours ago in post #252.
It's possible the F-35 picked it up, but we don't know that.
 
The F-35's have data link

External Quote:
The electronic warfare system is capable of detecting and jamming hostile radars.[116] The AAQ-40 EOTS is mounted internally behind a faceted low-observable window under the nose and performs laser targeting, forward-looking infrared (FLIR), and long range IRST functions.[117] The ASQ-242 CNI suite uses a half dozen different physical links, including the directional Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL), for covert CNI functions.[118][119] Through sensor fusion, information from radio frequency receivers and infrared sensors are combined to form a single tactical picture for the pilot. The all-aspect target direction and identification can be shared via MADL to other platforms without compromising low observability, while Link 16 is present for communication with legacy systems.[120]
Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Martin_F-35_Lightning_II

Older F-15s don't like with the intercept and failed visual ID in Montana (see quote below)

That means the F-35's were talking with ground radar, and potentially the AWACS in Alaska right?

External Quote:
It's also important to point out in this part of United States that we did not have data link for cueing like we had had before. Data link allows the radars on the ground to share information to the fighters airborne, allowing them to queue their sensors and their visual acuity in an attempt to visually identify the track.
North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command, Hold an Off-Camera, On-The-Record Briefing Feb. 12, 2023
Source: https://www.defense.gov/News/Transc...of-defense-for-homeland-defense-and-hemisphe/
 
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I am fairly certain an object of that size could not be both light enough to be a balloon (as seems to be the case) and heavy enough to penetrate 1 m of ice. I am also fairly certain that it would take very little for the debris of a balloon of that size to go missing on snow-covered sea ice. This is speaking mostly from personal experience with snow, snowdrift and ice. People who are not used to it often underestimate how quickly something can get covered by snow even if it's not currently snowing.

I'm surely not saying the falling envelope of a balloon can hole through ice, but that the payload can, given a thin enough ice (as possibly it was in Prudhoe Bay that day) and an adequate payload. I thought it was obvious.

I'm also not proposing the most probable reason for the object to have disappeared is that it holed through the ice, I agree very much being covered in snow is more probable (and I'd bet there are probably many other different possibilities too). My intent was not to propose a theory about how the object was not found, rather to show that not even the most basic checks were made before claiming the crash debris 'must' have been found. It's just a statement built on nothing.
 
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Jumping in to pre-empt the complaint that a balloon isn't hot so how could a heat seeking missile target it.
Aim-9 targeting is based on contrast so the balloon only needs to appear a different temperature to the background.

The imaging seeker is built around a focal plane array imaging device, analogous to the CCDs employed in modern television cameras. A focal plane array has a much greater instantaneous field of view than a reticle seeker, and 'stares' at the target and its immediate background, tracking the target by means of a contrast lock similar to that employed by TV guided weapons such as Maverick or GBU-15. In this fashion, the seeker can account for the background contrast and reject it, while also providing the potential to discriminate between multiple targets and countermeasures such as flares. Conventional pulse jammers have no effect.
In order to appear a different temperature it needs to be a different temperature, but balloons without an active source of heat have no option but to reach thermal equilibrium with their environment one way or another (on one hand buoyancy will take them to the appropriate level, and as they grow they cool, but there's also the exponential decrease in the heat difference over time due to the heat equation).

(Completely irrelevant side note harking back to my "progress of science/tech"-themed post yesterday: the principle that lets your 1980s CD player follow the tracks on the CD is basically the same idea that lets a 1950s sidewinder missile follow its target - and in their original implementation both only work by noticing that they've gone wrong, which in part is the origin of the name "sidewinder" - it would zigzag towards its target.)
 
In order to appear a different temperature it needs to be a different temperature, but balloons without an active source of heat have no option but to reach thermal equilibrium with their environment one way or another (on one hand buoyancy will take them to the appropriate level, and as they grow they cool, but there's also the exponential decrease in the heat difference over time due to the heat equation).

(Completely irrelevant side note harking back to my "progress of science/tech"-themed post yesterday: the principle that lets your 1980s CD player follow the tracks on the CD is basically the same idea that lets a 1950s sidewinder missile follow its target - and in their original implementation both only work by noticing that they've gone wrong, which in part is the origin of the name "sidewinder" - it would zigzag towards its target.)

I was leaving open that it could be a material like Mylar and reflecting a strong IR source.
 
In order to appear a different temperature it needs to be a different temperature, but balloons without an active source of heat have no option but to reach thermal equilibrium with their environment one way or another
They can be detected as long as that temperature is different than the "temperature" of the background, i.e. the sky. (cf. @JimJam in #260)
 
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Is everyone aware that all is begin done here is speculate. Nothing here is based on data..
I agree the out of control speculation that the objects were Pico Balloons needs to be rained in. Officially these are unidentified areal objects. We don't know what they are, but we can use deduction to rule out things we know they are NOT. For instance fixed wing aircraft etc, Pico Balloons, weather balloons.
 
They can be detected as long as that temperature is different than the "temperature" of the background, i.e. the sky. (cf. @JimJam in #260)
Some of the time the background will be the land or the sea, or the clouds, but you're right, there is an important distinction between the environment and the background that I was overlooking.
 
I agree the out of control speculation that the objects were Pico Balloons needs to be rained in.
You are the only person in this discussion who has suggested that more than one pico balloon was involved. Rein yourself in?

The one pico balloon we have speculated on has sttong circumstantial evidence going for it, i.e. its signal was last received in a location where the winds would've carried it towards the shootdown, and it loosely fits what we know of the downed object. That's more than we can say about the other two small objects.
 
If the sea ice looks like this, it certainly could.
View attachment 64332

Yes, of course, if it's drifting ice floes from the spring/summer melt it could go through. My point was that if the ice was 1 meter thick as was stated in the example I quoted, I don't think a balloon of the size of a small car, or any payload a balloon of that size could lift would be able to penetrate such thick ice, unless the payload was something very dense and heavy like a solid metal ball (or preferably, something pointy, like a javelin filled with lead or something). Sure, depending on the weather and temperature when the ice was formed, the structural integrity of it will differ, but 1 meter is a lot of ice to penetrate either way.

Not that it matters, because either way they, as far as we know, didn't find anything at the time and the ice has since melted, so whatever it was is most likely on the bottom of the ocean now.
 
What actual data do we have regarding the Pico Balloon that went dark over Alaska? What were it's exact specifications as far as balloon type/shape payload? When was it last tracked via radio and what was it's location time? Did the FBI contact the balloon club?

Beyond that would such a small balloon even be detectable by radar? Would it be detectable with FLIR? Would a sidewinder be able to lock onto such as small object?
 
What actual data do we have regarding the Pico Balloon that went dark over Alaska? What were it's exact specifications as far as balloon type/shape payload? When was it last tracked via radio and what was it's location time? Did the FBI contact the balloon club?

Beyond that would such a small balloon even be detectable by radar? Would it be detectable with FLIR? Would a sidewinder be able to lock onto such as small object?
Good questions ,all. But unless you know the answers, just asking the questions is not, of course, evidence of anything.

Some of that may be classified, or part of an ongoing FBI investigation, I guess though it seems like by now there'd not be much left to investigate!

Questions about the specs and payload could be asked of the folks who launched it -- unless they're sick of hearing about it by now, I guess. And there's always the possibility that an attorney has advised them not to comment. The only way to find out though would be to ask them.
 
What actual data do we have regarding the Pico Balloon that went dark over Alaska? What were it's exact specifications as far as balloon type/shape payload? When was it last tracked via radio and what was it's location time? Did the FBI contact the balloon club?

Beyond that would such a small balloon even be detectable by radar? Would it be detectable with FLIR? Would a sidewinder be able to lock onto such as small object?
Read.
This.
Thread.
 
So China has a new hypersonic program. This could potentially explain the 3 objects shot down over Alaska, the Yukon, and Lake Huron. Some new type of advanced China UAV. Maybe they have some breakthrough in lightweight battery technology that could extend the range of a drone/airship. Plus solar.


External Quote:

The report, “Near Space Operations Command,” made public during a Beijing conference on command and control in October, said the new operations command will direct hypersonic missiles against heavily protected targets, including communications equipment and hubs in the heartland of an adversary.

The command also operates “a large number” of spy balloons, solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicles and other support equipment, the report said.
China defense report links high-altitude spy balloons to hypersonic missile program November 30, 2023
Source: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/nov/30/china-defense-report-links-high-altitude-spy-ballo/
 
So China has a new hypersonic program. This could potentially explain the 3 objects shot down over Alaska, the Yukon, and Lake Huron.
It would if they were confirmed Chinese, which they weren't.

I think it might explain why the identified Chinese balloon had communications equipment it did not use.
 
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