Pentagon tried but failed to shoot down Chinese balloon over Montana’s Beartooth Mountains

After Billings Gazette photos published Feb. 1 forced President Joe Biden to acknowledge the Chinese spy balloon drifting over Montana, he said that he had earlier ordered it shot down.

What he didn’t say is that the Pentagon’s attempt to down the balloon over the Beartooth Mountains in Eastern Montana had failed.

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Earlier in the day on Feb. 1, several F-22 fighter jets along with two refueling air tankers and long-range surveillance AWACS aircraft flew a sortie over the Beartooth Mountains.

The plan was for the jets to use their guns to pierce the 200-foot balloon, with its equipment package the size of two school buses, so that it would fall gradually into the sparsely populated mountains where it could be relatively easily recovered. The Air Force preferred using guns rather than a missile over land.

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But the mission failed

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