by Bob Hoge
When the Chinese spy balloon story first broke, President Biden was heavily criticized for waiting days to take it down as it passed over the continental United States and our sensitive nuclear bases, possibly vacuuming up gigabytes of intel. Now, however, it seems that not a day goes by without the administration shooting down yet another unidentified object.
The Pentagon issued a memo to lawmakers Monday with more information concerning the shooting down of a “cylindrical object” flying over Canada:
The American military shot down a “small, metallic balloon” over Canada on Saturday, the Pentagon wrote in a memo to lawmakers Monday — offering one of the first descriptions of one of the three mystery objects downed over consecutive days.
The memo said the balloon, previously described as a “cylindrical object,” crossed near “US sensitive sites” before it was shot and “subsequently slowly descended” into Canadian waters off the Yukon territory, CNN reported.
So take aliens off the list—at least for that particular UFO. It was one of three takedowns over the weekend, with US forces also shooting down an unidentified object over Alaska on Friday and another over Lake Huron, Michigan on Sunday.
But the initial shot at Lake Huron failed, as the AIM-9x missile shot from an F-16 missed the mark: “The first Sidewinder heat-seeking missile missed the target,” a US official told Fox News.
My question is: where did that missile go?
I’m no military expert, but it seems dangerous to me to have a heat-seeking missile flying around unaccounted for. Did it crash into the freezing waters of Lake Huron? Did it explode mid-air, or demolish some poor Michigander’s barn? They’re not saying.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke from Brussels, Belgium Monday and said that the U.S. has not yet recovered any debris from the three most recent engagements.
Now that we’ve shot down four objects in the last 10 days, it’s also time to ask, is using powerful missiles fired from a $60 million F-16 fighter jet the best way to deal with these relatively small objects? (The first Chinese balloon was large—its payload was the size of three buses—but the subsequent UFOs have been considerably smaller.)
I’d like to hear an opposing opinion, but from what I’ve found most experts seem to indicate that yes, it’s actually a good call. One reason: the AIM-9X Sidewinder is small and cheap compared to other options, and is considered “pilot-friendly.”
Jodi Vittori, a professor of practice and co-chair of the Global Politics and Security program at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, explains:
“It’s made to be used within visual range, so it’s well-designed to have a pilot get up close to the balloon, visually observe and confirm what it is, fire at it at relatively close range, and stay close to confirm that the balloon was hit.”
The whole balloon/flying object saga has been an unexpected and weird story, with people openly claiming we’re being invaded by aliens, and the Biden Administration’s explanations changing hourly.
I’m most curious about what happened to that errant missile, and what they will discover when they finally gather all the debris from the downed objects.
But will they actually tell us?
Update: This story has been updated to correct the price of an F-16 jet, with advanced models ranging from $30-$80 million depending on the configuration.