99 Red Balloons and Today’s Spy Balloons

99 Red Balloons was a protest song released in 1983. In the lyrics, a boy and girl innocently release a batch of balloons into the air; confused by these flying objects, international governments panic, triggering a nuclear holocaust.

In 2023, China has spy balloons triggered an international incident and now numerous balloons and objects are being shot down.

China is making large balloons and airships. They are capable of carrying payloads able to capture light, infrared rays, multispectral, hyper-spectral, radar, and other information.

China, US and UK militaries are increasingly funding projects to build high-tech surveillance balloons that operate at nearly 20 kilometres up in the air.

Chinese military scientists have been looking for ways to make the balloons more durable, steerable, harder to detect and even to serve as platforms that fire advanced weapons.

The Chinese surveillance balloon carried an underslung payload described as a “technology bay” estimated to be the size of “two or three school buses” and was powered by sixteen solar arrays mounted on the payload. The balloon was 200 feet (61 m) tall according to U.S. General Glen D. VanHerck. USNORTHCOM and NORAD Commander, General Glen VanHerck, estimated the payload weighed over 2,000 pounds (910 kg).

The craft had rudders and propellers. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said it had limited self-steering capability.

Weather balloons typically are around 20 feet (6 m) wide, less than a quarter of the Chinese balloon’s diameter.

On February 3, the U.S. Department of Defense stated that a second Chinese surveillance balloon had been detected, this one flying over Latin America.

Lyrics to 99 Red Balloons
You and I in a little toy shop
Buy a bag of balloons with the money we’ve got
Set them free at the break of dawn
‘Til one by one, they were gone
Back at base, sparks in the software
Flash the message “Something’s out there”
Floating in the summer sky
99 red balloons go by
99 red balloons

Floating in the summer sky
Panic bells, it’s red alert
There’s something here from somewhere else
The war machine springs to life
Opens up one eager eye
Focusing it on the sky
The 99 red balloons go by

99 Decision Street
99 ministers meet
To worry, worry, super scurry
Call the troops out in a hurry
This is what we’ve waited for
This is it boys, this is war
The President is on the line
As 99 red balloons go by
99 knights of the air

Ride super high-tech jet fighters
Everyone’s a superhero
Everyone’s a Captain Kirk
With orders to identify
To clarify and classify
Scrambling the summer sky
99 red balloons go by
As 99 red balloons go by

99 dreams I have had
In every one, a red balloon
It’s all over, and I’m standing pretty
In this dust that was a city
If I could find a souvenir
Just to prove the world was here
And here is a red balloon
I think of you, and let it go

11 thoughts on “99 Red Balloons and Today’s Spy Balloons”

  1. The local, but part of a national syndicate, rock station started playing 99 red balloons on their play list a few days before the Chinese balloon was ‘first’ spotted.

    I paid attention, because I like the song and had not heard it in a while, and the singer resembles my cousin.

    Just a coincidental observation. Does social engineering extend to the radio stations? Idk.

  2. So, the official US story is that China is trying to spy on the US with HUGE balloons that anyone can see from the ground, despite China having spy satellites and stealth drones?

    What is China trying to do according to the US? Showing they have mastered the technology of balloons? Or that they are incapable of spying in secret?

    This sounds like the biggest false flag operation ever. From the US part. I wonder what else is happening in the country right now that they don´t want people to see.

  3. Here is the direct translation from the original song in german
    Do you have some time for me
    Then I’ll sing a song for you
    About 99 balloons
    On their way to the horizon

    If you’re perhaps thinking about me right now
    Then I’ll sing a song for you
    About 99 balloons
    And that such a thing comes from such a thing

    99 balloons
    On their way to the horizon
    People think they’re UFOs from space
    So a general sent up a fighter squadron after them
    Alarm bells ring, the squad takes off
    And everything looks like it’s going to happen
    But as they get closer, the pilots see
    That it’s a bunch of balloons

    The squadron leader is worried
    But there’s nothing he can do
    The pilots below him are excited
    And look forward to a hearty fight
    They get off the first shot
    Tons of fun, but guess who’s dying?

    99 balloons

    99 war ministers
    Matches and gasoline canisters
    They’re all very intelligent
    And they’ve got one thing in mind
    Power and violence
    And then the one with the sense
    Declares a war, but the other one doesn’t want to
    And all 99 balloons go by

    99 dreams I have had
    In every one a red balloon
    It’s all over and I’m standin’ pretty
    In this dust that was a city
    If I could find a souvenier
    Just to prove the world was here
    And here is a red balloon
    I think of you and let it go.

  4. Hey Brian, all US weather balloons have radio transponders to transmit weather data back, it is very easy for a US jet fighter to confirm if it’s a weather balloon because of this.
    We also waited for daytime visual confirmation of those we detected during the night before shooting them down.

    Our weather balloons are so easily tracked, there are civilians who track the flight and fall (they all pop after a while) as well as collect downed weather balloons as a hobby.

    We know which balloons were weather balloons before destroying them.

    The radio club balloon is the only one I think might of been an accident, but that is unlikely, but still possible.

    We also know our government lied to and tried to hide the fact about spy balloons before they were forced to act.

    It looks like they’re still lying about the balloons, if they’re real weather balloons, they lied so they can downplay the threat while appearing to do something.

    or they lied and there were more Chinese spy balloons and they probably don’t wish to admit how many & frequent they are, as well as they don’t want the public to be further angered with China by the fact.

    Also, as far as spy platforms, pretty sure balloons is pretty cheap and can be put out in large numbers and or frequently.

  5. Its like the Great Zeppelin Panic of 1913. People were seeing sneaky Hun airships all over the UK. Same old, same old.

  6. They’ve been blowing off these balloons for years, for whatever reason. The one that sparked this mess was, reportedly, first spotted at the time it was originally launched, and tracked the whole way to the US. And they weren’t going to do anything about it, until the annoying civilians noticed it, and figured out what was going on, and suddenly they had to look like they cared, and were doing something. But waited until it was finished, of course.

    So they went on a tear of shooting down anything vaguely balloon-like, even if they knew damned well it wasn’t a Chinese spy balloon. The whole affair is rather pathetic, from start to finish. It’s even beginning to look like a lot of the “UFO” mysteries are spy balloons and drones the government didn’t want to officially acknowledge. Because then they’d have had to do something about them?

    The interesting question is why they previously weren’t doing anything about these balloons, and presumed other spy devices.

    We know our governing institutions are at least somewhat compromised by Chinese intelligence. There have been events that are rather difficult to explain otherwise, such as the OPM data breach, where they had actually hired remote IT personnel working out of China and given them full network access.


    In this case, “social engineering” is a euphemism for “the people at the top are working for the other guys”. China really has learned that the best military investment is the opposing country’s politicians.

    • Naturally there is always some spying going on, and the US Government is likely to allow some intelligence gathering by foreign powers. This allows them to reciprocate the favour and gather some intelligence on those same foreign powers, as well as occasionally feed some BS through those channels when it is convenient for them to do so.

      Of course, in a free country, the best intelligence is simply subscribing to 100 newspapers and having them delivered to your spy agency’s HQ. Although, perhaps in the past 8–10 years these intelligence sources have become progressively more useless…

      • 30-40 years ago, subscribing to 100 newspapers might have made sense. These days, you’ll just get 100 copies of the AP feed.

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