The Biden administration has spent over $1,600,000 million on what could be $12 balloons.
President Joe Biden addressed the nation for the first time on Thursday about the recent spate of object shoot-downs by the US military — four shoot-downs in total involving a Chinese spy balloon and three additional yet-unknown objects.
Later that day, it was reported that one of the unidentified objects was a $12 balloon belonging to an Illinois-based hobbyist club, as Breitbart News reported.
“A small, globe-trotting balloon declared ‘missing in action’ by an Illinois-based hobbyist club on Feb. 15 has emerged as a candidate to explain one of the three mystery objects shot down by four heat-seeking missiles launched by U.S. Air Force fighters since Feb. 10,” Aviation Week reported.
The club's balloon, described as a "silver-coated, party-style, 'pico balloon,'" was last seen on Feb. 10 at 38,910 feet off Alaska's west coast.
That was the same day Biden directed an F-22 fighter jet to shoot down an object in that area at that altitude.
Indeed, the descriptions of all three still-unidentified objects shot down after the Chinese spy balloon “match the shapes, altitudes and payloads of the small pico balloons, which can usually be purchased for $12-180 each, depending on the type.” according to the outlet.
The military has admitted to using AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles to destroy each object. Each missile costs approximately $400,000.
After the first missile missed, one object required two, bringing the total cost of shooting down the three objects to more than $1,600,000.
These costs do not include the costs of operating labor and fuel for the F-22s or other aircraft involved in the shoot-downs. According to Popular Mechanics, the cost of operating an F-22 is $85,325 per hour.
The costs also do not include recovery operations, which have been ongoing in three different locations for several days.
On social media, the Biden administration was mocked for spending so much money to take down what could be hobby balloons.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) tweeted: “To be fair, Biden is providing powerful deterrence for any high school science clubs that might try to invade America…”
And Donald Trump Jr. tweeted: “Biden shot down some kids’ science project with a $400K sidewinder missile! [By the way] Biden admitted in his speech today, while not acknowledging this situation directly, that the balloons they shot down were likely just being used for ‘research or recreation.'”
Former Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI) mocked it as the “Great Balloon Panic of 2023" saying "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."