US Department of Defense
- The F-22 secured its first air-to-air kill by downing the Chinese surveillance balloon on Saturday.
- The Raptor fired “one AIM-9X Sidewinder missile,” bringing the balloon down off the South Carolina coast.
- The Defense Department has begun recovery efforts for debris with the US Navy and Coast Guard.
The F-22 got its first air-to-air kill taking out the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon, which spent the better part of the week floating above the United States and Canada at 60,000 feet.
“This was a PRC surveillance balloon. This surveillance balloon purposely traversed the United States and Canada, and we are confident it was seeking to monitor sensitive military sites,” a Department of Defense official said in a press release, noting that officials from the People’s Republic of China claimed the balloon was a “weather balloon that was blown off course.”
The balloon went down over the Atlantic Ocean off the South Carolina coast Saturday afternoon after an “F-22 Raptor fighter from the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, fired one AIM-9X Sidewinder missile,” per the DOD press release.
It is believed to be the F-22’s first air-to-air kill, according to Defense One.
—AirTrack (@aircraftrack) February 4, 2023
The F-22 fired the missile at an altitude of 58,000 feet while the surveillance balloon was between 60,000 and 65,000 feet, per the DOD. The balloon landed about six miles off the coast in 47 feet of water, and recovery efforts for debris have since begun with the assistance of the US Navy and Coast Guard.
“F-15 Eagles flying from Barnes Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts, supported the F-22, as did tankers from multiple states,” the Defense Department stated in its release. “The Navy has deployed the destroyer USS Oscar Austin, the cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the USS Carter Hall, an amphibious landing ship in support of the effort.”