The downing of China’s alleged spy balloon marked the first time the F-22 Raptor fighter jet brought down an airborne target since it debuted in combat in Syria and Iraq almost a decade ago, defense analysts said, Trend reports citing Al Arabiya.
“Shooting down China’s balloon was indeed the F-22’s first air-to-air kill,” Rebecca Grant, an Air Force systems specialist and president of IRIS Independent Research, said by email in response to questions. “Americans watched an unfriendly aircraft get shot down over our skies.”
Defense publication The War Zone said on its website that the incident “may be the highest altitude air-to-air kill ever. The F-22 was flying at about 58,000 feet off the South Carolina coast when it fired an Aim-9X Sidewinder missile at the balloon that was hovering at between 60,000 and 65,000 feet, Pentagon officials said Saturday.