The Chinese spy balloon had maneuvering capability and had similarities to the Google balloon project Loon, which utilized AI analytics in its operations, according to Col. (Ret.) John Mills, an author and former director of cybersecurity policy, strategy, and international affairs at the Department of Defense.
He said throughout the "spy balloon" episode that the Department of Defense has very clearly said that the Chinese balloon had maneuvering capability.
The Chinese regime maintained that it was a runaway weather balloon, but the U.S. administration has refuted such claims.
Mills said that when Google briefed him about the Loon project a decade ago, he was struck by its similarities with the CIA balloon projects of the past.
"This looks a lot like the CIA project from the 50s and 60s. It was called by about 10 different code names—Skyhook, AshCan [etc.]. The Google Project Manager ... had left NASA and was working for Google, goes, 'Yes, we actually FOA'd [Freedom of Information Act] CIA, and they gave us all the plans," said Mills.
Google's parent company, Alphabet, was using Project Loon to explore the possibility of using a fleet of balloons to beam high-speed internet in remote areas of the world and was shut down after nine years because Google couldn't find a sustainable business model and partners.
In Project Loon, Google had replicated the information it received from the CIA through the FOA, but what was different was that Google used its advanced artificial intelligence and big data analytics to maneuver the balloon, according to Mills.
"The Chinese spy balloon had maneuvering capability, which is interesting. So did the Chinese rip-off Google, which borrowed from CIA? Curious question!" he said.
The Epoch Times reached out to Google for comment.
Chinese SurveillanceMills thinks that the Chinese were clearly conducting surveillance over specific U.S. strategic sites.
"I don't think it's a coincidence that they were over the three ... existing missile wings," said Mills, adding that the United States roughly maintains 450 Minuteman III missiles on alert at three different missile wings. "So roughly 150 missiles each at Malmstrom Montana Air Force Base, Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota—which also has a bomber base—then Francis E. Warren in Wyoming."
"The Chinese were clearly conducting surveillance. They were exploiting gaps and seams in our air surveillance, our air picture. They clearly were doing that, and they were clearly collecting information and it also looked like the trackway went over Strategic Command Headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska," said Mills.
He suspects that the Chinese balloon was a spy operation and while it was over Nebraska, the Chinese were spying on the underground facilities.
"They were clearly doing electronic signals collection, perhaps imagery, perhaps measuring intelligence—all forms. Believe me, they probably had all kinds of different little sensors and subsensors collecting everything. So there's no question; they can call it weather all they want," said Mills.