(Ken Silva, Headline USA) President Joe Biden broke his silence Thursday on the recent balloon controversy to inform the public that the last three objects shot down by the military were likely harmless weather balloons.
“Nothing right now suggests they were related to China’s spy balloon program or that they were surveillance vehicles from any other country,” Biden told reporters, referencing the last three unidentified objects spotted over Alaska, Canada and Lake Huron in the Midwest.
“The intelligence community’s current assessment is that these three objects were most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation, or research institutions studying weather or conducting other scientific research.”
If Biden’s claims are accurate, that means the military spent some $1.6 million to shoot down the harmless objects—plus another $400,000 to shoot down the Chinese surveillance balloon.
To be fair, Biden is providing is powerful deterrence for any high school science clubs that might try to invade America…. https://t.co/kk5NNMtDCE
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 16, 2023
Antiwar.com editor Dave DeCamp noted that U.S. fighter jets 12 heat-seeking AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles, which are worth over $400,000 apiece.
The military used one of those missiles to take down the Chinese surveillance balloon near South Carolina earlier this month, and another four missiles to take down the last three objects—two were required to shoot down the one above Lake Huron because the first missile failed to detect the object and crashed “harmlessly” into Lake Huron, U.S. officials said Tuesday.
Biden did not mention the use of heat-seeking missiles in his speech, nor did reporters ask him about it.
According to a report from Aviation Week, one of the objects shot down may have been a party-style “pico balloon” used by the Illinois-based hobbyist club Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade.
DeCamp took to Twitter to show the public exactly what a pico balloon is.
This is a pico balloon, and it may be what your government shot down with heat-seeking AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles, which are worth over $400,000 each pic.twitter.com/c0Lb5EE2zE
— Dave DeCamp (@DecampDave) February 16, 2023
Aviation Week quotes a scientist who tried to warn government they were shooting down a pico balloon, to no avail.
“I tried contacting our military and the FBI—and just got the runaround—to try to enlighten them on what a lot of these things probably are. And they’re going to look not too intelligent to be shooting them down,” Ron Meadows, the founder of Scientific Balloon Solutions, reportedly told the publication.
Reacting to the bizarre sequence of events, Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., told Newsmax that he would have court-martialed” one of his soldiers if they shot a missile at a weather balloon.
‘I’ve got to tell you, as a Green Beret commander, I would have court-martialed one of my guys if they just started randomly shooting things they didn’t identify as hostile or having hostile intent,” Waltz said.
Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.