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US may have shot down party balloon worth $12 with $439000 missile


Kabul: One of the objects downed by the US Air Force using a $400,000 missile last weekend may have been a $12 balloon released by a hobby group, a report said.

The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade told Aviation Week that one of its balloons had gone missing, and that it may have been among the objects shot down by the US Air Force using a Sidewinder heat-seeking missile.

The club said that it had been tracking the course of its silver pico balloon.  Its last reported position was on February 10 at 38,910 ft. off the west coast of Alaska.

Pico ballooning involves flying high altitude balloons that resemble party balloons, then tracking their flight path as they travel across the globe. A pico balloon can cost anywhere from $12 to $180, according to reports.

According to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tracking tool, the balloon would have been flying over Yukon Territory in Canada on February 11— the same day that the US said it had shot down a mysterious object over the territory.

The parallels are intriguing, with the US saying the object downed by its F-22 jet was “cylindrical in nature,” and flying in the same location and at the same altitude as the club’s pico balloon.

The US Air Force used Sidewinder missiles to down the object. According to reports, the missiles cost more than $400,000 each.

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