If it turns out that President Joe Biden ordered an F-22 Raptor to shoot down a hobby club’s weather balloon with a $400,000 Sidewinder missile, he will deserve all the ridicule he gets.
The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade is a small group of balloon enthusiasts — “aged 11-years-old and up, kids, their parents and friends” — that has launched more than 25 pico balloons since organizing in September 2021.
Pico balloons are mylar balloons about 3 feet in diameter that are equipped with tracking devices. They are used by ham radio enthusiasts and other hobbyists.
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On Tuesday, the Illinois group reported in a blog post that one of its balloons, which had last been tracked floating near the west coast of Alaska early Saturday, was “missing in action.”
Later that day, it was reported that the Air Force had shot down an unidentified object over the central Yukon Territory — about where the balloon would have been based on its trajectory, according to the NIBBB.
In the blog post, the group said “Pico Balloon K9YO had “last reported on February 11th at 00:48 zulu near Hagemeister Island after 123 days and 18 hours of flight.”
It said the balloon was floating at an altitude of 38,910 feet when it last reported.
The post included the balloon’s projected trajectory (based on wind speeds and directions) at the time it went missing, which would have taken it right across central Alaska and over the Yukon Territory on Saturday — about the same time and area where an American fighter jet downed an “unidentified object.”
I spoke with President Biden this afternoon. Canadian Forces will now recover and analyze the wreckage of the object. Thank you to NORAD for keeping the watch over North America.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) February 11, 2023
On Thursday, Biden broke his silence on the objects that were shot down last weekend.
“We don’t yet know exactly what these three objects were,” he told reporters. “But nothing, nothing right now suggests they were related to China’s spy balloon program or that they were surveillance vehicles from other, any other country.”
“The intelligence community’s current assessment is that these three objects were most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreational or research institutions, studying weather or conducting other scientific research,” the president said.
Biden says the three objects that he ordered shot down last week after they let the Chinese spy balloon fly across the country were most likely weather balloons. pic.twitter.com/RvePtENh21
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) February 16, 2023
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz was among the first to hit the president over his administration’s apparent incompetence.
First, he shared an article from Aviation Week about the NIBBB balloon. “A small, globe-trotting balloon declared ‘missing in action’ by an Illinois-based hobbyist club has emerged as a candidate to explain one of the three mystery objects shot down by four heat-seeking missiles launched by U.S. Air Force fighters,” the outlet tweeted.
Cruz wrote: “President Biden needs to tell the American people whether this is true.”
President Biden needs to tell the American people whether this is true. https://t.co/XxrJwzUTwq
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 16, 2023
His comments then took a more sarcastic turn. “To be fair, Biden is providing is powerful deterrence for any high school science clubs that might try to invade America …,” the senator said.
To be fair, Biden is providing is powerful deterrence for any high school science clubs that might try to invade America…. https://t.co/kk5NNMtDCE
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 16, 2023
The fact remains that he allowed the Chinese balloon to transit the entire U.S. mainland for a week, while it flew over our most strategic military installations gathering data all the way, before shooting it down.
Then he does a complete 180, apparently, and sends fighter jets to take down science club balloons.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.