F-22 Raptor scores its first Air to Air kill.

F-22 Raptor scores its first Air to Air kill.

F-22 Raptor scores first Air to Air kill.

F-22’s from the 1st Fighter Wing Based in Virginia bring down Chinese Ballon just off the east coast of the United States.

Article: Jaryd Stock.
File Images: Jaryd Stock or otherwise stated.


U.S. officials confirmed that two F-22A Raptors from JointBase Langley-Eustis were tasked to shoot down the much publicised Chinese surveillance balloon that crossed the United States off the coast of the Carolinas earlier today.

In a statement provided by the U.S. Department of Defence and videos online seeming to confirm F-22’s do indeed shoot a missile at close range most likely to be the AIM-9X, this marks the first confirmed air to air kill for the Raptor.

U.S. President Joe Biden ordered the action on Wednesday, but it was delayed until the balloon was over water off the coast of South Carolina to ensure no Americans on the ground were harmed.

“The balloon, which was being used by the PRC in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States, was brought down above U.S. territorial waters,” Austin said.

The action was taken in coordination and support of the Canadian government. “We thank Canada for its contribution to tracking and analysis of the balloon through [North American Aerospace Defense Command] as it transited North America,” Austin said. “Today’s deliberate and lawful action demonstrates that President Biden and his national security team will always put the safety and security of the American people first while responding effectively to the PRC’s unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” Austin said referring to the Peoples Republic of China.

U.S. officials first detected the balloon and its payload on January 28 when it entered U.S. airspace near the Aleutian Islands. The balloon traversed Alaska, Canada and re-entered U.S. airspace over Idaho. “President Biden asked the military to present options and on Wednesday President Biden gave his authorization to take down the Chinese surveillance balloon as soon as the mission could be accomplished without undue risk to us civilians under the balloon’s path,” said a senior defense official speaking on background. “Military commanders determined that there was undue risk of debris causing harm to civilians while the balloon was overland.”

Two F-22 Raptors fighter from the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base which is the umbrella unit for the 94th Fighter Squadron “The Spads” and the 27th Fighter Squadron “The Fighting Eagles”, utilising the callsign Frank 1 and Frank 2 conducted loitering operation around the airspace several thousand feet below Balloon with one of the Raptors firing one AIM-9X Sidewinder missile at the balloon scoring a direct hit.



The balloon fell approximately six miles off the coast in about 47 feet of water. No one was hurt.

Long before the shoot down, U.S. officials took steps to protect against the balloon’s collection of sensitive information, mitigating its intelligence value to the Chinese. The senior defense official said the recovery of the balloon will enable U.S. analysts to examine sensitive Chinese equipment. “I would also note that while we took all necessary steps to protect against the PRC surveillance balloon’s collection of sensitive information, the surveillance balloon’s overflight of U.S. territory was of intelligence value to us,” the official said. “I can’t go into more detail, but we were able to study and scrutinize the balloon and its equipment, which has been valuable.”

The balloon did not pose a military or physical threat. Still its intrusion into American airspace over several days was an unacceptable violation of U.S. sovereignty. The official said Chinese balloons briefly transited the continental United States at least three times during the prior administration.

While Chinese officials admitted that the balloon was theirs, they said it was a runaway weather balloon. “The PRC has claimed publicly that the high-altitude balloon operating above the United States is a weather balloon that was blown off course. This is false,” the official said. “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.”

The mission now transitions to one of recovery. There are a number of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels establishing a security perimeter around the area where the balloon came to Earth. They are searching for debris, said a senior military official also speaking on background.

There is no estimate for how long the recovery mission will take, the military official said, but the fact that it came down in such a shallow area should make recovery “fairly easy”.

The military official gave some detail of the engagement. The F-22 fired the Sidewinder at the balloon from an altitude of 58,000 feet. The balloon at the time was between 60,000 and 65,000 feet.

Two F-15C Eagles flying from Barnes Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts under the callsigns Eagle 01 & 02 supported the F-22’s , as did two KC-135R Stratotankers from Air National Guard units, provide air to air refuelling with a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon and a U.S. Coast Guard HC-130J Hercules seen loitering around the coastline where Ballon touched down into the water\. Canadian forces also helped track the overflight of the balloon.

The Navy has also 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.


F-22 Raptor from Edwards AFB launches an AIM-9X Sidewinder from port side weapons bay during trials in 2015 Photo- David Henry/ Lockheed Martin.



Jaryd Stock on Flickr
Jaryd Stock
Jaryd Stock is based in Sydney Australia. He has been a die-hard aviation enthusiast from a young age when he was chauffeured around by his father to various airshows and airports around Australia. At his first Airshow he witnessed the awesomeness of a General Dynamics F-111C and immediately fell in love with aviation.

Jaryd picked up a camera at a young age and has never looked back. He now combines photography and writing to highlight "Downunder" aviation; especially U.S. DoD units. Jaryd uses Nikon cameras and lenses.
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