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Downing of Chinese Balloon Was F-22’s ‘First Air-to-Air Kill’, Analysts Say

© AFP 2023 / RADOSLAW JOZWIAKA F 22 Raptor fighter jet takes part in the NATO Air Shielding exercise near the air base in Lask, central Poland on October 12, 2022
A F 22 Raptor fighter jet takes part in the NATO Air Shielding exercise near the air base in Lask, central Poland on October 12, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.02.2023
The suspected Chinese surveillance balloon was shot down by an American warplane last Saturday, almost a week after the floating object was detected over the continental United States.
The shooting down of China’s alleged spy balloon by the US fighter jet F-22 Raptor marked the first time this fifth-generation aircraft downed an airborne target since it made its combat debut in Syria and Iraq in 2015, a US media outlet has reported.

Rebecca Grant, an Air Force systems specialist and president of IRIS Independent Research, told the outlet that “shooting down China’s balloon was indeed the F-22’s first air-to-air kill”.

Her remarks were echoed by another news outlet, which argued that downing the Chinese balloon “may be the highest altitude air-to-air kill”.
Grant’s comments came after an F-22 Raptor from Langley Air Force base took the balloon down with a single AIM-9X sidewinder missile last Saturday, with President Joe Biden saying that he would like to “compliment our aviators who did it". The developments came about a week after the balloon was spotted over the US state of Montana, where there are US nuclear sites.
Beijing insisted that the balloon was a civilian airship engaged in scientific research, mainly meteorological studies, and expressed regret over its unintended entry into US airspace.
The F-22, which was made by Lockheed Martin Corp, has mainly been used to carry out guided air strikes against Daesh* positions in Syria and Iraq.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Monday, July 11, 2022, in Washington.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.02.2023
No Letting Go: US Won't Return Remains of China's Balloon, Vows to 'Exploit' Device
The Air Force touted the stealth fighter’s success in those missions to justify the use of the F-22 which had long been criticized for its cost and the service’s failure to use it. A price tag for one such jet reportedly stands at a whopping $206 million.
A US magazine once described the F-22 as “a phenomenal fighter that happens to be phenomenally expensive as well as maintenance-intensive”. The past several years have seen a spate of incidents involving the F-22, which, in particular, landed with its fuselage scraping against the ground at the time.
*Daesh (ISIL/ISIS, Islamic State), is a terrorist group banned in Russia and other countries
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