Why did the US have to shoot down the Chinese hot air balloon with a missile?

According to Tech ARP, Most of the public does not understand why it is necessary to use a missile worth nearly $ 400,000 to shoot down one hot air balloon Cheap. However, the actions of the US Air Force at that time were for good reason.

In the mission to shoot down the hot air balloon suspected of being a Chinese spy vehicle off the coast of South Carolina (February 4), the US Air Force deployed 5 aircraft including 2 stealth fighters F-22 Raptor. , two F-15s and an aerial refueling aircraft.

After determining the situation, two F-22s codenamed “FRANK01” and “FRANK02” received orders to shoot down the Chinese hot air balloon, FRANK01 was the aircraft that launched the missile.

Why did the US have to shoot down the Chinese hot air balloon with a missile?  - Photo 1.

Image of a Chinese hot air balloon falling after being hit by an F-22 missile. (Photo: HLS.Today)

Experts say that the US Air Force’s choice of F-22 for this mission comes from the fact that the Chinese hot air balloon is operating at a very high altitude – about 20,000 m, and this stealth fighter has the ability to fly. at such a high altitude and still be able to use the missile in any situation.

Many jet fighters have similar maximum flight ceilings but their actual ceiling is often much lower, and they are also limited by weapons and the amount of fuel they can carry.

It didn’t take too long, the F-22 Raptor with the number FRANK01 reached an altitude of more than 17,700 m before firing the AIM-9X Sidewinder missile at the Chinese hot air balloon. This is also the first time the F-22 has shot down a target in an air-to-air mission.

While some scoff at using such an expensive missile to shoot down hot air balloons, the AIM-9X is the smallest and cheapest air-to-air missile in the US Air Force’s arsenal.

On the other hand, F-22 pilots also cannot use the 20 mm M61A2 Vulcan multi-barrel cannon to shoot down the balloon when the aircraft is operating at a lower ceiling than the target (more than 2,000 meters apart). On the other hand, the M61A2 Vulcan has an effective range of only 600 m. Therefore, using missiles is the most suitable option to shoot down the Chinese hot air balloon.

However, the administration of US President Joe Biden is still criticized for using the F-22 to shoot down a Chinese hot air balloon, in addition to the country’s lawmakers, who also believe that Mr. chinese hot air balloon, Reuters news.

Why did the US have to shoot down the Chinese hot air balloon with a missile?  - Photo 2.

F-22 pilots do not have many options to intercept the Chinese balloon, other than using missiles. (Photo: The Drive)

In response to February 10, US President Biden in a meeting newspaper China’s hot air balloon flying over US airspace was not a serious violation.

He also did not regret not having ordered the balloon to be shot down sooner because the US military was concerned that this would cause the balloon’s debris to fall into residential areas.

Biden’s statement goes against the position of the US House of Representatives. With 419 votes in favor and no vote against, the US House of Representatives on February 9 unanimously supported a resolution against the Chinese hot air balloon flying over the country’s airspace.

China’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that the balloon was used for scientific research purposes, mainly meteorological research. In a statement on February 5 after the shooting down, the ministry confirmed that the appearance of this civilian hot air balloon in US airspace was unintentional.

Currently, weather balloons are used quite commonly, thousands of balloons are released in the air every day around the world to collect meteorological information.

However, weather balloons are usually not large, their diameter is only from 1.8 m to 6 m depending on the operating altitude. Their payload is also small, consisting of a device box with several sensors.

The Chinese hot air balloon that was shot down by the US is not only much larger in diameter (about 27 m) but can also carry a large amount of equipment including solar batteries and propeller motors. direction.

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