The decision by the Biden administration to use a $400,000 missile to shoot down what could potentially be a $12 hobby balloon has been met with mockery from Republicans, conservatives, and others. Some have even labeled it an extravagant measure to eliminate what they consider to be nothing more than a “kids’ science project.”
According to a report by Aviation Week, the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade reported that one of its tracked balloons went missing on February 11th, around the same time when President Biden authorized the shooting down of an unknown object over Canada’s Yukon Territory.
While the White House has not confirmed the fears of the Illinois club that their balloon was destroyed, the news has prompted swift criticism on social media.
“To be fair, Biden is providing is [sic] powerful deterrence for any high school science clubs that might try to invade America….,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tweeted.
“President Biden needs to tell the American people whether this is true,” Cruz added in a follow-up tweet.
Former President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Don Jr., also chimed in, tweeting: “Biden shot down some kids’ science project with a $400k sidewinder missile!”
The younger Trump added that Biden had admitted that the three unidentified objects taken out by the military after the shoot-down of a Chinese spy balloon were likely just being used for “research or recreation.”
Former Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) called the ordeal 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 said in a tweet.
Meanwhile, left-wing journalist Max Blumenthal suggested Biden’s take-down orders were to “prove his manhood.”
“An F-22, which costs $85,000 an hour to fly, used a $450,000 missile to take down a $12 hobby balloon belonging to the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade, all so Biden could prove his manhood to [Rep.] Majorie [sic] Taylor Greene,” he tweeted.
Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk added: “Biden let an actual Chinese spy balloon cross 2,000 miles of American airspace untouched. Now he fakes being tough by shooting down a $12 science project from the (I kid you not) ‘Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade.’”
The Brigade had said its Pico Balloon — a silver-coated, cylindrically shaped object — reported its last position at 38,910 feet off the west coast of Alaska on Feb. 10.
By the following day, the balloon — based on its projected path — would have been over the central part of Canada’s Yukon Territory, which was around the same time an Air Force F-22 shot down an unidentified object in the same area.
The enthusiast group — which is dedicated to creating, releasing and tracking homemade balloons — declared its K9YO device “missing in action” on Saturday.
The group’s balloon was equipped with a small GPS transmitter and an antenna, allowing the group to track it via ham radio.
Such balloons usually float around until they’re brought down by bad weather or damaged.
In addition to Saturday’s takedown, the US downed airborne objects over Alaska on Friday and Lake Huron on Sunday.
Biden finally addressed the unprecedented military action on Thursday, telling Americans there was no evidence that the three unidentified flying objects were nefarious.
“We don’t yet know exactly what these three objects were,” he said.
“But nothing, nothing right now suggests they were related to China’s spy balloon program, or that they were surveillance vehicles from any other country.”
Authorities are still trying to recover the debris from the three recently downed objects. Late Thursday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said it had suspended the search for the balloon shot down over Lake Huron.