SIOP- The Single Integrated Operations Plan. It’s a war plan for the strategic assets of the US military. This plan, covering thousands of pages, is one of the most classified documents that the military has. It details targets, timing, and routes for the nation’s armed forces in the event of a nuclear war. The plan outlines where each cruise missile, land based ICBM, and bomber will strike, what paths they will take, and how they will be supported- tankers, fighter support, and more. The plan is meticulously timed so that no two weapons interfere with each other. A cruise missile might take out a SAM site, then an aircraft out of a European base might fly through the gap created to strike an airbase that allows other forces to reach a missile field. A bomber that is too close to a cruise missile detonation becomes useless when it’s downed by fratricide, so timing is important. SIOP gets updated constantly.
The US Air Force operates a wing of RC-135s whose mission is electronic reconnaissance. They map every single radio and radar transmitter that puts out more power than a toaster for hundreds of miles on each side of its flight path. For radars, it isn’t just location. The plane records the frequency, power, pulse width, and repetition rate of every radar. For radio, they record conversations, frequency, and other facts to determine whether or not those radios belong to command posts, air traffic controller sites, or other defense functions.
How does this tie in to the Chinese balloons? It’s very possible that the Chinese are preparing for a war. Yes, a nuclear one. It’s my feeling that, before invading Taiwan, the Chinese are updating their own version of SIOP. Any invasion of Taiwan has a possibility of involving the United States, and any nation that takes on the US military has to consider the possibility that the conflict will eventually involve a nuclear exchange. PLAN would not be doing their jobs if they did not have an updated picture of the capabilities of NORAD.
These drones, balloons, whatever they are, are mapping the defenses of this nation for a reason. Why now? Why so many? Why risk it? The risk is high, so the reward must be equally as high.