Chinese balloon reignites focus on Electronic Warfare and intelligence gathering platforms

During his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden said he seeks competition from China, not conflict. But some national security strategists warn what captivated the nation last week was part of a much larger network.
Future of Electronic Warfare
Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 8:25 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Electronic warfare is a largely invisible, yet critical part of modern war. It targets communications, navigation, guidance systems and even civilian life. The discussion about it has heightened amid both the War in Ukraine and following a Chinese balloon (an intelligence gathering platform) that captivated the nation, and our state.

During his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden said he sought competition from China, not conflict.

“I’m committed to work with China where we can advance American interest and benefit the world but make no mistake about it, as we made clear last week, if China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country and we did,” said President Biden.

And he made clear, the military is modernizing to safeguard stability and deter aggression.

“Today, we’re in the strongest position to compete with China or anyone else in the world,” he said.

Statements the world was watching, as well as military and security strategists.

“The one ring to rule them all is the electromagnetic spectrum,” said Dr. David J. Stuckenberg, national security strategist. “There are no activities that occur in any of the other domains – air, land, sea, space and cyber, that do not involve the electromagnetic spectrum and whoever controls that spectrum, really controls all of the others.”

NATO has called Dr. Stuckenberg a “young disruptor”, others call him a global influencer. He’s also an executive and deputy director of strategy for the Texas Air National Guard, who led the Electromagnetic Defense Task Force for two years, studying intelligence gathering platforms like the latest one from China.

“And it’s highly problematic because this is our sovereign air space, believe it or not, and that air space has now been violated in a very bold and calculated way,” Dr. Stuckenberg said.

And highly problematic because he says what captivated the nation last week was part of a larger network.

“We shot down one of many, there were many that day,” he said. “And there have been many.”

In 2015, Dr. Stuckenberg authored the Blue Paper 1-1, which focused on high-altitude delivery platforms like the one witnessed in multiple U.S. states. To read it, visit

“Less known threats that can have an outsized affect,” he said.

His research received broad interest from the Department of Defense and spawned the Electromagnetic Defense Task Force.

“From 120 agencies, from the Executive branch all the way down to FEMA, we had representation form whole of government essentially,” he said.

Including the U.S. military, and the task force’s reports presented a wholistic look at competitor’s interests, gray zone warfare, and solutions needed at the local, regional, and national level.

“And that involved a series of activities from creating new technologies to actually hardening grids and facilities, and those activities are now going on around the country,” Dr. Stuckenberg said.

Fast forward to activities happening right now, like last week’s intelligence gathering platform shot down and collected off the South Carolina coast Feb. 4.

“On this particular threat vector, it could deliver either intelligence or something potentially kinetic or something that would be potentially a weapon of mass effect,” Dr. Stuckenberg said. “Effects being lights out over a certain region that wasn’t protected or hardened.”

More state governments are also taking electromagnetic threats and pulses more seriously. The Texas Legislature has a bill to address the resiliency and reliability in the state and municipalities. The bill also includes working with the security commission and addressing cyber vulnerabilities.

“At the end of the day what are we going to do about it,” Dr. Stuckenberg said. “I think the answer has been given.”

To read more findings from the Electromagnetic Defense Task Force visit: