China's spy balloon had tools to record communications signals: State Department
China 'regrets' US air intrusion — insists balloon is a civilian airship

China's spy balloon that drifted across the U.S. last week was fitted with equipment that let it record communication signals, theNew York Times reported Thursday.

According to the State Department, "the balloon had multiple antennas in an array that was 'likely capable of collecting and geo-locating communications,'" the Times reported.

"Solar panels on the machine were large enough to produce power to operate 'multiple active intelligence collection sensors,' the department said," reported Times writer Edward Wong. "The agency also said the U.S. government was 'confident' that the company that made the balloon had direct commercial ties with the People’s Liberation Army, the Chinese military, citing an official procurement portal for the army. The department did not name the company."

This comes after other reports that the balloon was part of a vast network of surveillance the Chinese government has been running over five continents. It also follows reports that similar balloons made incursions under the Trump administration — often classified at the time as unidentified aerial phenomena, or UFOs, according to the new report.

The Chinese government has insisted the object was not a spy balloon, but a civilian weather monitor that accidentally veered off course. However, the State Department said the balloon was equipped with sensors "clearly for intelligence surveillance and inconsistent with the equipment onboard weather balloons."

The balloon drifted from Idaho to the Carolinas before it was shot down over the Atlantic Saturday.

Former President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked the Biden administration for not immediately shooting down the balloon. He has also claimed China "would never have flown the Blimp ('Balloon') over the United States" on his watch.