No one has mentioned that the China balloon recently shot down after sailing across the United States could have been weaponized with a bomb or bioweapons. Thankfully, it was not.
A single nuclear burst 250 miles above Kansas could destabilize much if not most of the US power grid. Almost the entire country, as well as parts of Mexico and Canada, would be affected by the resulting EMP (electromagnetic pulse). 250 miles above the Earth is about as high as the US Space Station is from Earth. Potential military threats from outer space was a prime motivation for creating the United States Space Force in 2019.
The China balloon was not 250 miles up required for a coast-to-coast EMP attack. Only about eleven miles. It carried a payload of about a ton (2000 pounds). A 1.75 megaton thermonuclear bomb can weigh as little as 1500 pounds. And this is using technology over 60 years old. The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima to help win WWII was a 0.015 megaton (15 kiloton) device. Detonated at a lower elevation, a 1.75 megaton bomb would destroy much more than just electronics and the power grid.
The United States reports it did not shoot down the China balloon for fear of hurting US civilians in, for example, Montana – a state with a population density of seven people per square mile. Apparently, this fear trumped the possibility the balloon contained weapons or spying technology.
Attacking the United States with balloon cargo would not be a wise move by China. That’s more the style of a terrorist group. Taking chances in an ever-increasing volatile world, though, is also not wise. Adversarial military aircraft entering US air space without successful vetting should be quickly dispatched. This is doubly true when unmanned, like a balloon or drone swarm.
There is a greater, more realistic threat. China is already flying satellites over the United States. (And the US flies satellites over China.) Some may be armed with thermonuclear weapons. If China does attack the United States, using armed satellites is more likely than deploying an armed balloon.
The threat of war is real. General Mike Minihan, head of Air Mobility Command, recently said, “I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me we will fight [China] in 2025.” Let’s pray not. Especially since there’s a good chance the United States might lose.