A final word on the Chinese balloon

| February 5, 2023


Well the balloon is down. Only after it flew over the entirety of the Continental Unites States, and only after flying over several military sites. Including two DoD nuclear installations. Anyways, there is some video of the balloon being shot down. Retired naval aviator Ward Carroll breaks it down.

The biggest takeaways;

  • The F-22 Raptor has scored its first air-to-air kill. Admittedly against the least stealthy target of all time.
  • The Raptors flew with the callsign “Frank”, a nod to Second Lieutenant Frank Luke, the American WWI pilot who was the first airman to receive the Medal of Honor, and a balloon ace.
  • The Raptor shot the balloon with a AIM-9X Sidewinder missile. Carroll goes into the why and how of that in the video above.
  • The balloon was between 60,000 and 65,000 feet and the Raptor fired up from an altitude of ~58,000 feet.

Interesting to watch. I really hope they paint a balloon on that Raptor’s nose.

Category: Air Force, China

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Does Joe & Hil have to take a deduction from their payoff for the cost of the balloon and gear?

Asking for a friend.


Damned good thing the Air Force didn’t consult Lars before undertaking the shootdown and learn from TAH’s Font of all Knowledge that it was a Mission Impossible… 🙄 

Retired Mustang

A $400,000 Sidewinder missile to shoot down a balloon.


Chump change to Biden Corp.


Wait… They used a $381,000 missile to… pop a balloon? Why didn’t they just pop off a burst of their .20mm cannon?


How much does a round of 20mm from the Vulcan cannon cost? It may end up being a wash considering that the 480 rounds carried by the Raptor probably wouldn’t get the job done. My understanding is that the Canadians previously tried to pop one of these with a couple of their F-18’s, expended almost 1200 rounds and the balloon took 6 days to fall to ground. The Vulcan variant on the CF-18 carries almost 100 rounds more than the Raptor.


On the other hand, if it fell so slowly there would be little if any danger to life or limb (which seemed to be very important), or even property, and more likelihood of recovering the payload intact. And, if the video is correct that it was seen long before it reached Monana, shooting the balloon down earlier would have prevented all the alleged intelligence gathering by that nefarious device.

All in all, I am not buying all the hysterical BS.


Either way, it should have been taken down sooner if for no other reason than to show decisiveness.


Yep…Just as soon as it crossed into American Airspace.


Also, the missile breaks up into non-aerodynamic chunks, even the killer fragments.

A 20mm round stays ballistic, all the way down. Even inert AP is quite lethal. It would punch clear through a house. Exploding/incendiary? Ouch. Several hundred? Ouch.


Basic problem: stall speed of wing at 65,000 feet.

An extreme example is the U-2 at max altitude. Stall is only a few knots below supersonic. A little too slow and down you go, with akmost no chance of recovery. A bit too fast, and the wings come off, and down you go, with zero recovery.

The F-22 could not possibly slow down enough, that high, to target a near-stationary balloon. The depth of engagement envelope is too short.

With a missile, you have a much deeper envelope, and solar panels should be nice and heat-bright against super-cold air. (AIM-9x can spot leading edge friction heat, for all aspect engagement.) Also, a missile can climb, allowing engagement from lower altitude with thicker air, allowing slower flight.

One also should avoid flying through the shattered target.


Huh, I forgot about the solar panels. Maybe they did use the infrared homing feature.

AW1 Rod

Closing the barn door after the horse has escaped. Any SIGINT and/or video was relayed to the CHICOMs in real time.


China readies another balloon.


The remote viewing magic ball of 8 with blue fluid sees another balloon piloted by a monkey in clown face with bat wings, still no roll, eggs catch fire.

Don’t drink the blue fluid!


Trump officals deny ANY such ballons flew over the US during the Trump Administration.


That seems likely HT3, had there been any that information would have been “leaked” and the MSM would have blamed it all on Trump.


If a Chinese ballon had flown in U.S. air space under Trump, it would have been the talk of MSM forever. They would have wanted Trump lined up and shot for treason. They leaked a non issue phone call for Gods sakes.


Yep, those alleged “anonymous former administration officials” were straight up concocted by China.


It possible that one slipped the corner up in Alaska…and continued on to Canada. The amount of time it was in US airspace being measured in seconds. Especially if Mustang CPT is correct that the Canadians tried to kill one with guns.

Milo Mindbender

Why couldn’t an industrial sized laser have been focused on the balloon, if it was done long enough it would have burnt a hole in the material. Today you can buy lasers with enough power to light materials up at a respectable distance. A balloon isn’t all that tough and with enough holes going through the material it would have lost buoyancy fairly quickly.


That would be part of a really long conversation. While certainly possible there is a truck load of issues to deal with.

Anna Puma

Big one – atmospheric attenuation.


There’s a huge degree of difference between a laser that can burn skin/retina and one that can effectively down an aircraft (even something as pedestrian-seeming as a balloon).

That fission success 1 1/2 months ago needed the largest laser array ever assembled. It’s far beyond anything the scientific community is able to independently verify simply because no other such facility exists.

Of course, fission and ordnance are apples and oranges (which is a shame, as I prefer oranges to apples but believe fission is the future). Still, as all my ex-girlfriends are wont to remind me: sometimes, size really does matter.


At 60k+ feet I am not sure even the Air Force C-130 mounted laser could have reached it. That is a heck of a lot of power requirement.
This thing was only 30kW. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AN/SEQ-3_Laser_Weapon_System
Issue would be getting said laser into area to shoot it down in enough time. It was travelling about the speed of military regulations, taking about 5 days to get across the US…same as the travel regulation says it should take.


You would likely be surprised by how far a 30KW laser might be effective, especially against a balloon. But now we have them on fighter jets in test, fielding expected in 2025.



You are strongly overestimating the viability of lasers as a direct weapon.

Is it possible to create one, yes. Are we close to perfecting such, no.

Research into lasers as a direct energy weapon has done wonders to increase our scientific understanding of phenomena such as thermal blooms, and has opened the door to exploration in their use as non-lethal weapons (until some “anti-brown-note” legislation is passed banning the study of such systems). However, the “ray gun” concept of a laser as a direct weapon remains far from realized.

The same arguments against using firearms on the balloon applies, but moreso.

Wrench Turner

You of all people should know that questions that begin with some variation of “Why can’t they…?” usually have the answer, “Money.”

Imagine a conversation like this in an Air Force Accounting office somewhere in the Pentagon.

“No sir, we can’t shoot down that balloon. There is no money in the budget. We have line items for shooting down enemy bombers, enemy fighters, and even a budget allocation for accidently shooting down Navy planes or Army helicopters. But there is not a Congressionally approved appropriation for the Air Force to go shooting down balloons. . . . . Maybe money for shooting down balloons could be included in next year’s funding request.”


They could’ve fitted it to I’ll tempered sea bass


Only the Biden administration could screw it up this bad. Afghanistan version 2.0


Joe would fuck up a one car funeral.


Or a one camel caravan.


Should’ve been shot down in Alaskan airspace before it crossed the Aleutians.

Anna Puma

And then fallen on a Russian spy trawler.

jeff LPH 3 63-66

Am glad F Troop’s Cpl Agarn’s cousin wasn’t flying the balloon. IT IS BALLOON.

BlueCord Dad

Here ya go Jeff….

AT1 ret

New Airforce MEPS test station.


At the risk of being crass:

Daisy Cutter

One of the best comments I heard was: “Shootdown of Red Chinese Spy Balloon Is Likened to ‘Tackling the Quarterback After the Game Is Over’”


So now we owe China a balloon payment………