The GuardianThe Guardian

Spy balloons: What are they and why are they still being used?

By Helen Sullivan

03 Feb 2023 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

On Thursday, the Pentagon said it was tracking a Chinese spy balloon flying across the U.S. The Guardian explains what this centuries-old spyware is and how this is raising tensions between powers.

On Thursday, the Pentagon said it was tracking a Chinese spy balloon flying across the US. They may not hold the same intrigue as a buttonhole camera or arsenic hidden in a tooth, but spy balloons have been used for centuries – and, experts say, their use is likely to increase in future.

What happened above the US on Friday?

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