You know, everyone’s always talking about how the US military is only ever used to kill foreigners for resource control and generate profits for the military-industrial complex, but that’s not entirely true. Turns out the US military is also used for shooting down party balloons.
In an article titled “Object downed by US missile may have been amateur hobbyists’ $12 balloon,” The Guardian’s Richard Luscombe reports the following:
The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade says one of its hobby craft went “missing in action” over Alaska on 11 February, the same day a US F-22 jet downed an unidentified airborne entity not far away above Canada’s Yukon territory.
In a blogpost, the group did not link the two events. But the trajectory of the pico balloon before its last recorded electronic check-in at 12.48am that day suggests a connection – as well as a fiery demise at the hands of a sidewinder missile on the 124th day of its journey, three days before it was set to complete its seventh circumnavigation.
If that is what happened, it would mean the US military expended a missile costing $439,000 (£365,000) to fell an innocuous hobby balloon worth about $12 (£10).
“The descriptions of all three unidentified objects shot down Feb. 10-12 match the shapes, altitudes and payloads of the small pico balloons, which can usually be purchased for $12-180 each, depending on the type,” writes Steve Trimble for Aviation Week, who first broke the Bottlecap Balloon Brigade story.