U.S. Fighter Shoots Missile at Chinese Spy Balloon
ON February 4, 2023, tensions between the U.S. and China escalated to new heights as a suspected Chinese spy balloon drifted into the United States, prompting the U.S. military to track it all the way from Montana to the Carolinas, according to a CNN report.
The massive balloon was the size of three commuter buses.
President Joe Biden ordered the downing of the spy balloon floating over the U.S.
“On Wednesday, when I was briefed on the balloon, I ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down on Wednesday as soon as possible. They decided without doing damage to anyone on the ground,” Biden said on Saturday.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed the downing of the spy balloon, saying a U.S. F-22 Raptor “successfully brought down the high-altitude surveillance balloon launched by and belonging to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) over the water off the coast of South Carolina in US airspace.”
The incident prompted Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to postpone his trip to China, plunging the already icy relations between the two superpowers to a new low. Blinken claimed China “created the conditions that undermine the purpose of the trip.”
Meanwhile, footage of the shooting down of the spy balloon was captured by locals, who cheered as they filmed the incident.
U.S. F-22 Raptor Shoots Missile at Chinese Spy Balloon? original sound - Abo Limos
Why a Missile, Not Bullets, Was Fired
It might seem easy to pop a balloon, but when we're talking about something the size of three buses inflated with so much helium and made of the toughest material that could withstand harsh weather, it's a different story.
In fact, in 1998, the Canadian airforce shot 1,000 rounds of bullets at a rogue weather balloon the size of a 29-storey building. They failed to down it immediately, even if the balloon had numerous holes punched in it. It just stayed afloat for many hours until it slowly deflated.
"It wasn't enough to shake loose the release mechanism. They probably hit the balloon too. But those small bullet holes and a balloon that size would have almost no effect," Dale Sommerfeldt, who worked at the Canadian engineering firm Scientific Instrumentation Ltd., told the Associated Press at the time.
In the case of the Chinese Spy Balloon that floated over the U.S. during the weekend, the F-22 Raptor fired a sidewinder missile, successfully exploding the balloon. But it was done after careful calculation of the risks involved, including the balloon and debris falling on civilians.
In the end, the U.S. Air Force received a green light from the President to down the balloon.
China Angered by the Downing of Its Spy Balloon
Reacting to the incident, Beijing slammed the U.S. for shooting down the spy balloon and accused the U.S. of overreacting.
"China has always strictly abided by international law and respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries," China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. It also claimed the entry of the spy balloon into the U.S. was an accident.
“The Chinese side has repeatedly informed the U.S. side after verification that the airship is for civilian use and entered the U.S. due to force majeure, it was completely an accident,” read the statement.