Biden Administration Spent over $1.6M Shooting Down What May Be $12 Hobby Balloons

Mike Fruitma, owner of Mike's Stadium sports Card in Aurora, paid $2,502 earlier this
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The Biden administration has spent more than $1,600,000 million shooting down what may be $12 balloons.

President Joe Biden on Thursday addressed the nation for the first time on the spate of shoot-downs of objects by the United States military over the past two weeks — four shoot-downs in total involving a Chinese spy balloon and three additional still-unknown objects.

Later Thursday, a report emerged that one of the unknown objects might have been a $12 balloon belonging to an Illinois-based hobbyist club.

“A small, globe-trotting balloon declared ‘missing in action’ by an Illinois-based hobbyist club on Feb. 15 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 since Feb. 10,” Aviation Week reported.

The outlet said the club’s balloon — a “silver-coated, party-style, ‘pico balloon'” — was last seen on Feb. 10 at 38,910 feet off the west coast of Alaska. That was the same day Biden ordered an F-22 fighter jet to shoot down an object at around that altitude in that area.

In fact, the outlet reported, the descriptions of all of the three still-unidentified objects that were shot down after the Chinese spy balloon “match the shapes, altitudes and payloads of the small pico balloons, which can usually be purchased for $12-180 each, depending on the type.”

The military has acknowledged it used AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles to shoot down each object. Each missile costs around $400,000. One object required two missiles after the first one missed, bringing the total cost of shooting down the three objects to more than $1,600,000.

Those costs do not include operating labor and fuel costs for operating the F-22s, or other aircraft involved in the shoot-downs. Operating costs for F-22s are $85,325 an hour, according to Popular Mechanics.

The costs also do not include recovery operations, which have been ongoing for days in three different locations.

The Biden administration was mocked on social media for spending so much money to take down what are potentially hobby balloons.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) tweeted: “To be fair, Biden is providing powerful deterrence for any high school science clubs that might try to invade America…”

And Donald Trump Jr. tweeted: “Biden shot down some kids’ science project with a $400K sidewinder missile! [By the way] Biden admitted in his speech today, while not acknowledging this situation directly, that the balloons they shot down were likely just being used for ‘research or recreation.'”

Former Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI) mocked it as the “Great Balloon Panic of 2023.”

“RIP to the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade’s ~$80 ham radio transmitter balloon, likely the victim of friendly fire by a $143,000,000 USAF F-22 firing a $485,000 AIM-9X Sidewinder missile during the Great Balloon Panic of 2023,” he tweeted.


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