Unidentified Objects/Balloons Intercepted by US aircraft

The Chinese spy balloon changed the situation a bit
I seriously doubt that. NORAD has long standing protocols when it comes to unidentified radar tracks.

I wonder if the interagency task force Jake Sullivan set up came to any conclusions or recommendations? Check the bottlecap brigade before launching 500k sidewinder missiles and freaking out China and the rest of the world.

I think even the skeptic here know something STINKS about this case. But many here are super pro national security, who think if the government has secrets it is for a good reason. Not me.

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I seriously doubt that. NORAD has long standing protocols when it comes to unidentified radar tracks

You know this? Protocols for unidentified radar tracks of missiles and unknown aircraft, sure, for balloons though? I don't know, do you? If balloons were routinely filtered out as non-threats, like a flock of geese would be, maybe not.

Check the bottlecap brigade before launching 500k sidewinder missiles and freaking out China and the rest of the world.

IF China is going to launch large surveillance type balloons and let them drift over other nations without alerting them, there is at least a chance they may be shot down. IF China doesn't want to be "freaked out" by the consequences of overflying other nations, they can keep their balloons under control OR alert other nations that "Hey our big-ass balloon is harmless and is going to overfly y'all".

There is a long-standing tradition of commercial airliners overflying other nations, often even when various nations are at odds with each other.

I think even the skeptic here know something STINKS about this case. But many here are super pro national security, who think if the government has secrets it is for a good reason. Not me

You're making some big assumptions here. I personally think the government types hide behind national security way too often. I think some of the Navy videos could maybe be solved if there was more information.

What exactly is the nefarious thing that is going on in this case? You repeatedly seem to assert there is a giant cover up. Of what?

The conventional story is that NORAD didn't pay attention to balloons. Then the Chinese balloon came along. NORAD started to watch balloons and found lots more. They then shot a few down that were maybe not a big threat. Now they keep track of balloons more accurately.

It sounds like a normal bureaucratic reaction. Don't track balloons. Oh shit, there's a Chinese balloon threat over us. Start looking for ALL balloon threats. Oh shit, there's lots of them, let's shoot some down. Maybe they were just hobby balloons. Let's keep track of hobby balloons going forward.

And that assumes they hadn't been tracking multiple Chinese balloons for years. IIRC, this became an issue when others noted the balloon. Had they not, NORAD may have just tracked it as it flew by keeping tabs on the Chinese. The decision to shoot it down is not a NORAD decision, it's a political decision made at the civilian level.

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Strickly speaking, this is a violation of the "no click" policy and the posting guidelines. IF there is something relevant in this link, it is your job to share and highlight it, not my job to go find out what is important in the link.
 
I think even the skeptic here know something STINKS about this case.
Shit! As in literally, I thought though the thread revival was due to the recent NK balloon incidents as none of the news items I read about it told us from what animal were the faeces from, why are they hiding this info from us! We need to know. Hell for all I know it could be personally from Kim Jon Un.

Back to your post, I don't see what's so strange and unanswered. I assume NORAD (or whoever) had an algorithm like if its large and drifting in the wind just ignore as its most likely a balloon thus harmless, cause otherwise we have 100+ incidents a day we have to investigate, now they've revised the algorithm to treat objects that look like balloons as possibly other countries spying on us, so they now first rule out is it a friendly balloon, which I assume 99% are, and just investigate the other 1%
 
I don't think it's like that though. NORADs mandate is to look for threats like enemy aircraft and missiles. I'm sure they track a lot of other stuff too, but they are looking for threats, not every conceivable flying object. After the failure of the Japanese bomb dropping balloons of WW2, I don't think NORAD cared a lot about balloons.
There's actually a legal framework. Aircraft (and a lot of other things) have to announce to the FAA when they plan to enter U.S. airspace, but lightweight balloons do not. So if NORAD was looking for a "scramble the interceptors" type of situation, the balloons would be under the radar, literally and figuratively. They simply never had a legal reason to care about them.
 
You're making some big assumptions here. I personally think the government types hide behind national security way too often. I think some of the Navy videos could maybe be solved if there was more information.
AARO has made it clear that any information that could help with the old Navy videos has not been retained. There is no secret there. (They now have policies to retain more information.)

I believe some intelligence agency had been tracking the PRC spy balloon from launch, but did not tell NORAD because they didn't want the PRC to find out that they were tracking it. That's "national security" at work, with ultimately no harm done.
 
This is from Chat GPT.

  1. Shape Reconstruction: To reconstruct the shape of an object using radar, advanced signal processing techniques are employed. These techniques involve analyzing the radar data, such as the amplitude, phase, and frequency information of the reflected waves, to extract features that can be used to create a representation of the object's shape. Algorithms and mathematical models are used to interpret the radar data and reconstruct the object's geometry.
Poor fella. You got dislikes, but ChatGPT isn't wrong. I got you though. I'll attach a good paper that covers things pretty well. People seem to be stuck with with the idea of what a radar could do in like the 70s (range and velocity). This section describes high-resolution range profiles (HRRPs) pretty well (Other methods are in the paper too).

"2.1.2. Wideband Target Characteristics of High-Resolution Radar

High-resolution wideband radars can provide fine structural information which is helpful for target recognition. Generally, the characteristics of the target that can be used for recognition include high-resolution one-dimensional images (HRRPs), 2D images (e.g., ISAR and SAR), and various image sequences.

(1) HRRP characteristics

The HRRP of a target is one of the important characteristics of RATR, which is the coherent summation of complex echoes of the target scattering centers in each range unit, reflecting the distribution of strong scatters in the direction of the radar LOS. The illustration of an HRRP is shown in Figure 2. It has a close correspondence with the actual shape of the target, which can be used as the basis for RATR. At the same time, the target micro-motion, such as precession, nutation, and roll, will also cause the projection of each scattering center position on the radar LOS to change, resulting in the target HRRP sequence changes according to a certain rule [41]. Therefore, the size features, micro-motion features, and shape features of the target can be extracted from the HRRP for target recognition. Generally,
the higher the bandwidth, the finer the features of the target will be reflected. Compared with ISAR and SAR images, HRRPs are easier to obtain and more efficient to process.

1000001164.png


"
 

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Poor fella. You got dislikes, but ChatGPT isn't wrong. I got you though. I'll attach a good paper that covers things pretty well. People seem to be stuck with with the idea of what a radar could do in like the 70s (range and velocity). This section describes high-resolution range profiles (HRRPs) pretty well (Other methods are in the paper too).
The best you get out of the presented algorithms is, "this is similar to object A", which is an object the algorithm has been trained on. It's not going to help identify something truly unknown, like a picture would.
 
High-resolution wideband radars can provide fine structural information which is helpful for target recognition.

I won't pretend to have any idea about what structural info modern radar can resolve, but the linked-to Wen Jiang, Yanping Wang et al. paper doesn't give examples of a flying object being identified, much less imaged, by radar operators "blinded" to the nature of the object (though I guess the authors are attempting to contribute to the development of such a capability).

b.PNG


E.g., the HRRP (high resolution range profile) returned for this notional airliner-shaped target indicates the distribution of scattering centres. But imagine this was a real target in flight; the returned HRRP would change radically depending on the orientation of the target:

b2.png

Wen Jiang, Yanping Wang et al. recognise this problem in paras. 1 and 3, pg. 6 of their paper.

A suitably rich training set might allow a connectionist architecture to infer the identity of an object "seen" from a novel angle, and the authors spend some time discussing work on PDP applied to feature sorting.
But just as the US isn't going to give Russia a decent set of radar returns from different aspects for a B-2 Spirit, it's unlikely that the US has such a rich set of radar returns for specific Chinese surveillance balloons that the exact nature and capabilities of the CONUS intruder could be determined by radar alone, whatever deep learning algorithms/ connectionist architectures used.

By-the-bye, the authors, scientists at the Radar Monitoring Technology Laboratory, North China University of Technology, Beijing, whose paper clearly deals with possible military applications, might have a sense of humour; on page 26:

Capture.PNG

To be honest, they got more of a brief frown than a chuckle out of me.

(Edited to add: Amusing/ concerning because the images used by the authors appear to be of the Pentagon, USA).
 
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I won't pretend to have any idea about what structural info modern radar can resolve, but the linked-to Wen Jiang, Yanping Wang et al. paper doesn't give examples of a flying object being identified, much less imaged, by radar operators "blinded" to the nature of the object (though I guess the authors are attempting to contribute to the development of such a capability).

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The unidentified objects were a lot smaller than an airliner, for sure. A ham radio picoballoon can't be more than a single blip on the radar.
E.g., the HRRP (high resolution range profile) returned for this notional airliner-shaped target indicates the distribution of scattering centres. But imagine this was a real target in flight; the returned HRRP would change radically depending on the orientation of the target:

View attachment 69300
Wen Jiang, Yanping Wang et al. recognise this problem in paras. 1 and 3, pg. 6 of their paper.
Re: the "LOS at right angles" issue: The radar profile is temporal, i.e. the radar resolves the distance of the scattering centers from the antenna, where objects farther from the antenna correspond to a signal later in the radar return. (That's the R=Range in HRRP.)
A suitably rich training set might allow a connectionist architecture to infer the identity of an object "seen" from a novel angle, and the authors spend some time discussing work on PDP applied to feature sorting.
But just as the US isn't going to give Russia a decent set of radar returns from different aspects for a B-2 Spirit, it's unlikely that the US has such a rich set of radar returns for specific Chinese surveillance balloons that the exact nature and capabilities of the CONUS intruder could be determined by radar alone, whatever deep learning algorithms/ connectionist architectures used.
It seems plausible that if there was a recording over time that encompassed at least a partial rotation, the distance of the scattering centers from the center of rotation could be computed, as they would each trace a sine wave with that distance as its amplitude.
By-the-bye, the authors, scientists at the Radar Monitoring Technology Laboratory, North China University of Technology, Beijing, whose paper clearly deals with possible military applications, might have a sense of humour; on page 26:

View attachment 69301
To be honest, they got more of a brief frown than a chuckle out of me.

(Edited to add: Amusing/ concerning because the images used by the authors appear to be of the Pentagon, USA).
It's amusing because if you're identifying stationary buildings by radar, you've gone down a very wrong path.
 
BLUF: To be clear, I don't see any reason to think the military shot down an ET or whoever, just that they probably knew what they were shooting at and I wanted to CTR on why that is probably the case.
I won't pretend to have any idea about what structural info modern radar can resolve, but the linked-to Wen Jiang, Yanping Wang et al. paper doesn't give examples of a flying object being identified, much less imaged, by radar operators "blinded" to the nature of the object (though I guess the authors are attempting to contribute to the development of such a capability).

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Fair enough, the paper was lacking in some concrete examples. From a different paper, here's a ship being resolved by combining some of the steps described in the other paper.

1000001187.jpg

Simplified processing steps showing the principle of the proposed detection in range-Doppler domain, the clustering of the pixel-based detections to a single object (middle right), the target track transferred from range-Doppler to time domain (bottom right), and the extracted range-compressed ship signals (bottom center) needed for generating a high-resolution ISAR image sequence (bottom left).
And this one shows a couple different aspects of the target.
1000001188.jpg

Range-compressed HH polarized L-band (top right) and X-band data (middle right) of the police ship Bad Bramstedt acquired during a circular F-SAR flight track (left). The azimuth axis covers an observation time of approx. 7 minutes. At the bottom an ISAR image sequence generated from the range-compressed X-band data is shown.
We can get pretty good looking images even without the tech found in modern military jets. It's not picture perfect, but it can give you enough detail to ID the target, and it can get better. The 150 MHz and 384 MHz in the above picture are the LFM bandwidths they are using. The range resolution is inversely proportionally to that (Higher bandwidth = smaller range res). 384 MHz is roughly 40 cm.

For example, here's ultrawideband S & Ku band images of a drone.

1000001182.png


ISAR images of drones under test, courtesy of Li, University of Texas
((a) 3DR solo, (b) DJI inspire 1, (c) Solo ISAR image at 90° (12–15 GHz), (d) Inspire 1 ISAR image at 270° (12–15 GHz), (e) Solo ISAR image at 90° (3–6 GHz), (f) Inspire 1 ISAR image at 270° (3–6 GHz))[https://ietresearch.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1049/iet-rsn.2018.0020]
Not as great as the ship, but this was with a commercial radar kit from like 2015. (They used this for the 3-6 GHz image, PulsON 410 (P410) UWB transceiver, 4.3GHz C-RF, 1.4 GHz LFM, the caption is confusing for the bandwidth.) You might not be able to tell the brand of drone, but it's at least distinguishable from a balloon or plane.

E.g., the HRRP (high resolution range profile) returned for this notional airliner-shaped target indicates the distribution of scattering centres. But imagine this was a real target in flight; the returned HRRP would change radically depending on the orientation of the target:

View attachment 69300
Wen Jiang, Yanping Wang et al. recognise this problem in paras. 1 and 3, pg. 6 of their paper.
True, and I highlighted HRRPs because they are pretty basic, but all the different methods are important. From the ship paper,
Ship recognition:
Robust ship recognition is still a current research topic which requires much more effort than classification. High-resolution range profiles (HRRPs), high-resolution ISAR images (or image sequences) and micro-Doppler signatures can, for instance, be used as input for ship recognition algorithms. A fusion with data from other sensors or sources may improve the recognition performance.
It's important to remember that it's not just one jet out there. Sensor fusion is the big thing nowadays. There's no rule that says you can only use the HRRPs or whatever you build yourself. (e.g. multiplatform airborne SAR/ISAR)

But just as the US isn't going to give Russia a decent set of radar returns from different aspects for a B-2 Spirit, it's unlikely that the US has such a rich set of radar returns for specific Chinese surveillance balloons that the exact nature and capabilities of the CONUS intruder could be determined by radar alone, whatever deep learning algorithms/ connectionist architectures used.
Yeah, I could take a guess, but I have no idea for sure tbh. But it'd be pretty crazy to let them meander around the US and partner nations so those types of databases could be built.

By-the-bye, the authors, scientists at the Radar Monitoring Technology Laboratory, North China University of Technology, Beijing, whose paper clearly deals with possible military applications, might have a sense of humour; on page 26:

View attachment 69301
To be honest, they got more of a brief frown than a chuckle out of me.

(Edited to add: Amusing/ concerning because the images used by the authors appear to be of the Pentagon, USA).
Friendly/unfriendly rivalry lol.

I'll attach the ship paper because it's pretty cool, but tbh I don't like the drone paper so I won't post it.

And briefly back to my original point, this
  1. Shape Reconstruction: To reconstruct the shape of an object using radar, advanced signal processing techniques are employed. These techniques involve analyzing the radar data, such as the amplitude, phase, and frequency information of the reflected waves, to extract features that can be used to create a representation of the object's shape. Algorithms and mathematical models are used to interpret the radar data and reconstruct the object's geometry.
is correct.

But still no aliens. Probably.
 

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BLUF: To be clear, I don't see any reason to think the military shot down an ET or whoever, just that they probably knew what they were shooting at and I wanted to CTR on why that is probably the case.
Yes they almost certainly knew what it was. Especially the object over Alaska which had 2 F-35's do a flyby the night before they shot it down. We are talking top level sensor fusion. As the F-35 has cutting edge phased array radar, as well as 5 DAS IR cameras, and a forward looking targeting IR camera. Combine that with the F-35's "data link" ability it had fusion with ground radar as well.

If you can't get a positive ID with those resources, we are raising serious questions about the competence of our military. I am not saying they were extraterrestrial, but I am saying we are being lied to. I for one want the truth, or at least tell us it is classified and can't be shared with the public because of national security. But this "we don't know what it was" and we shot it down but "couldn't find the debris because it was snowing so we gave up" doesn't pass a basic smell test.
 
Yes they almost certainly knew what it was.
Because buzzwords?
If you can't get a positive ID with those resources, we are raising serious questions about the competence of our military.
The military's job is to fight other militaries, not amateur radio pico-ballloons. I feel they can be excused for not being able to identify non-threats, since it doesn't pertain to their core competence.

Unless you want to foment fear and outrage; then scandalize away!
 
Because buzzwords?

The military's job is to fight other militaries, not amateur radio pico-ballloons. I feel they can be excused for not being able to identify non-threats, since it doesn't pertain to their core competence.

Unless you want to foment fear and outrage; then scandalize away!

An interesting defence strategy.
My next move, as a foreign military, is to play "amateur radio pico-balloons".
Your move, and it better be better than “You are playing out of character. The OPFOR would never have done what you did.”

(That quote's from US JFCOM's disastrous MC '02 war simulation, there's a pretty good write-up here: https://warontherocks.com/2015/11/m...a-corrupted-military-exercise-and-its-legacy/ )
 
Yes they almost certainly knew what it was. Especially the object over Alaska which had 2 F-35's do a flyby the night before they shot it down. We are talking top level sensor fusion. As the F-35 has cutting edge phased array radar, as well as 5 DAS IR cameras, and a forward looking targeting IR camera. Combine that with the F-35's "data link" ability it had fusion with ground radar as well.

If you can't get a positive ID with those resources, we are raising serious questions about the competence of our military. I am not saying they were extraterrestrial, but I am saying we are being lied to. I for one want the domesticall, or at least tell us it is classified and can't be shared with the public because of national security. But this "we don't know what it was" and we shot it down but "couldn't find the debris because it was snowing so we gave up" doesn't pass a basic smell test.
While I agree with you to a point, you're overthinking this....it's politics. By not coming up with debris, the administration was able to conceal the fact they fired/wasted 4 Sidewinders missiles valued at nearly $2M to shot down hobbiest balloons costing probably less than $100 each. They looked weak and foolish allowing a known intel gathering asset from China to overfly the US, and went after the other three harmless, but publicly unidentified balloons, to show the administration's resolve. Of course they knew what they were, or at least what they weren't....a threat to the security of the US.
 
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the administration was able to conceal the fact they fired/wasted 4 Sidewinders missiles valued at nearly $2M to shot down hobbiest balloon
That is the cover story for the cover story IMHO. Much more likely to have been surveillance balloons sent from China. But again we have issues with balloons in general, with the rigid exterior and the breaking into multiple pieces upon impact with the sea ice. So some sort of mysterious fixed body craft IMHO. Could represent a technology breakthrough by China or Russia.
 
Much more likely to have been surveillance balloons sent from China.
Can you explain how you assessed the likelihood of that?

But again we have issues with balloons in general, with the rigid exterior and the breaking into multiple pieces upon impact with the sea ice. So some sort of mysterious fixed body craft IMHO. Could represent a technology breakthrough by China or Russia.
Or could easily represent balloons and you and I, who have never had to search for balloon wreckage under any conditions, much less those then in existence, may totally underestimate the difficulty of doing so?
 
Or could easily represent balloons and you and I, who have never had to search for balloon wreckage under any conditions, much less those then in existence, may totally underestimate the difficulty of doing so?
There have been a number of aircraft gone missing over the years in Alaska, with no trace found. Not finding debris from a small balloon and an A/A missile is not surprising at all.
Squadron_Activity_Report,_Maxwell_Airforce_Base,_March_1946.jpg

(from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1950_Douglas_C-54D_disappearance )

"But mendel", you say, "one of the objects was shot down over Lake Huron, not in Alaska at all". Compare https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northwest_Orient_Airlines_Flight_2501 , of which some light debris was found floating on Lake Michigan, but the main wreckage is still missing.
Douglas_DC-4_Northwest_Airlines_(4589814311).jpg

This is not a pond we're talking about.
 
That is the cover story for the cover story IMHO. Much more likely to have been surveillance balloons sent from China. But again we have issues with balloons in general, with the rigid exterior and the breaking into multiple pieces upon impact with the sea ice. So some sort of mysterious fixed body craft IMHO. Could represent a technology breakthrough by China or Russia.
Not the first time an administration has hidden behind national security to conceal embarrassing, if not criminal, political actions, and it won't be the last.
 
source, please
External Quote:
a Defense Department official said it broke into pieces when it hit the frozen sea, which added to the mystery of whether it was indeed a balloon, a drone or something else.
Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/10/us/politics/unidentified-object-shot-down-alaska.html

External Quote:

GEN. VANHERCK: Yeah. So I'm not going to categorize these balloons. We call them objects for a reason. Certainly, the event of South Carolina coast for the Chinese spy balloon, that was clearly a balloon.

These are objects. I am not able to categorize how they stay aloft. It could be a gaseous type of balloon inside a structure or it could be some type of a propulsion system. But clearly, they're — they're able to stay aloft.
source: https://www.defense.gov/News/Transc...of-defense-for-homeland-defense-and-hemisphe/
 
Your move, and it better be better than “You are playing out of character. The OPFOR would never have done what you did.”
And your (@Mendel's) move was:
dislike_icon.png


Either you have a brilliant grasp of irony, in which case well played, sir, or you have absolutely no grasp of irony at all, in which case, you've been well played, sir.
 
And your (@Mendel's) move was:
dislike_icon.png


Either you have a brilliant grasp of irony, in which case well played, sir, or you have absolutely no grasp of irony at all, in which case, you've been well played, sir.
I'm just baffled why you think picoballoons would have helped the red team win any exercise ever, and what you thought your comment contributed to the topic.
"Let's use streetcars in our next move, I bet they're not expecting that!"
 
External Quote:
a Defense Department official said it broke into pieces when it hit the frozen sea, which added to the mystery of whether it was indeed a balloon, a drone or something else.
Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/10/us/politics/unidentified-object-shot-down-alaska.html

External Quote:

GEN. VANHERCK: Yeah. So I'm not going to categorize these balloons. We call them objects for a reason. Certainly, the event of South Carolina coast for the Chinese spy balloon, that was clearly a balloon.

These are objects. I am not able to categorize how they stay aloft. It could be a gaseous type of balloon inside a structure or it could be some type of a propulsion system. But clearly, they're — they're able to stay aloft.
source: https://www.defense.gov/News/Transc...of-defense-for-homeland-defense-and-hemisphe/
Thank you.
I feel these statements are too vague, and too removed from actual observations, to assign meaning to them.
 
I'm just baffled why you think picoballoons would have helped the red team win any exercise ever, and what you thought your comment contributed to the topic.
"Let's use streetcars in our next move, I bet they're not expecting that!"
You've conflated a hypothetical extrapolation of the recent balloon story with the 2002 exercise. The thing you think I think is purely in your own mind.
My point is that any known weakness can be exploited.
 
You've conflated a hypothetical extrapolation of the recent balloon story with the 2002 exercise. The thing you think I think is purely in your own mind.
Yeah. Because your post was badly written, did not make a clear point, and engaged in one-upmanship, for which I awarded it a thumbs down.
"The OPFOR would never have done what you did" means "the OPFOR did something unexpected".
My point is that any known weakness can be exploited.
Then demonstrate that not identifying small floating objects (beyond them being small floating objects) is a weakness. Otherwise, your point does not apply here.
 
Then demonstrate that not identifying small floating objects (beyond them being small floating objects) is a weakness. Otherwise, your point does not apply here.
They can carry radio transmitters, so they can exfiltrate any information that that they can gather, which could be optical, thermal, radio, ...
They can also be used as decoys, to distract from other things, and waste time/resources.
 
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