This is the plane that destroyed the Chinese spy balloon over the coast of the United States

The F-22 Raptor departs from Langley Air Force Base on its mission to shoot down the Chinese spy balloon (photo: Airman 1st Class Mikaela Smith/Air Force/via AP) (Airman 1st Class Mikaela Smith/)

A F-22 Raptor fighter of the US Air Force was in charge of shoot down chinese spy balloon that was flying over North American territory, after waiting for it to be over the ocean to prevent it from falling on populated areas.

At 2:39 p.m. Saturday, while the balloon was flying in US airspace about 6 nautical miles off the coast of South Carolina, the F-22 that departed from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia – and was flying at an altitude of 17,000 meters – fired an AIM-9X Sidewinder against him. The Sidewinder is a $400,000 short-range missile used by the Navy and Air Force primarily for air-to-air engagements. It measures about three meters long and weighs about 90 kilos.

The live news showed the moment of impact, as the balloon collapsed and began a long plunge into the Atlantic.

The F-22 was supported by a number of Air Force fighters and craft and the Air National Guard, including F-15s from Massachusetts and ships from Oregon, Montana, Massachusetts, South Carolina and North Carolina. All the pilots returned safely to the base and there were no injuries or other damage on the ground, a senior military official told reporters at a briefing on Saturday.

Unlike the F-22, other fighter jets like the popular F-16 and F-15 can only reach heights of 60,000 feet. Which, in the case of the Chinese spy balloon, would have made the mission difficult, since at times it flew above that limit.

The balloon spent several days hovering over North America before being targeted off the coast of the southeastern state of South Carolina, landing in relatively shallow water just 14 meters deep.

On Saturday afternoon the military had the first opportunity to shoot down the balloon “in a way that it did not pose a threat to the security of the American people,” a senior defense official told reporters, while allowing authorities to collect the debris fallen in United States territorial waters.

In a video posted to social media by eyewitnesses, the balloon appeared to disintegrate into a white puff before its remains plummeted vertically into the Atlantic Ocean.

This photo provided by the US Air Force shows a US Air Force pilot taking off in an F-22 Raptor at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. At the direction President Joe Biden, military aircraft brought down a high altitude surveillance balloon off the coast of South Carolina.  (Senior Airman Chloe Shanes/US Air Force via AP)
(Air Force/AP) (Senior Airman Chloe Shanes/)

Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader, insisted that the Administration had made the right decision. “We send a clear message to China that this is unacceptable,” he said in a statement. “We protected civilians. We got more information while protecting our own sensitive information.” Shooting down the balloon by an F-22 fighter jet “was not only the safest option, but it was the one that maximized our information gain,” Schumer said – because any instrumentation on the airship was more likely to survive a water landing. He said the full Senate would receive a classified briefing on February 15.


As the deflated balloon slowly descended, US Navy ships had already moved to the scene to collect the remains.

The Federal Aviation Administration had temporarily closed airspace over the Carolina coast, including the Myrtle Beach and Charleston, South Carolina, and Wilmington, North Carolina airports. And the FAA and Coast Guard worked to clear the airspace and water under the balloon.

Once the balloon crashed into the water, according to the US authorities, the debris field stretched for at least 10 kilometers. The depth is shallower than they had planned, making it easier to recover parts of the sensor pack and other salvageable parts.

USS Oscar Austin, a Navy destroyer, USS Carter Hall, a dock landing ship, and USS Philippine Sea, a guided-missile cruiser, are all part of the recovery efforts, with a ship due to arrive in a few days. rescue. Navy divers will be on hand if necessary, along with drones that can retrieve the wreckage and lift it back onto the ships. The FBI will also be on hand to sort and evaluate anything that is recovered, officials said.

As for the intelligence value, US officials said the balloon’s journey across the US gave experts several days to analyze it, gather technical data, and learn a lot about what it was doing, how it was doing it, and why. why China can be using things like this. They declined to provide details, but said they hope to learn more as the remains are collected and analyzed.

(With information from AP)

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