The Federal Aviation Administration on Saturday issued a temporary flight restriction off the coast of South Carolina banning airplanes from flying through the restricted area.
The action was interpreted to mean that the U.S. military is set to shoot down a Chinese balloon that drifted southeast across America this week.
The FAA has issued a TFR (type of NOTAM) off the coast of South Carolina. pic.twitter.com/O1bVP8Hd4J
— Faytuks News Δ (@Faytuks) February 4, 2023
Statement the FAA:
The FAA has paused departures to Wilmington (ILM), Myrtle Beach (MYR) and Charleston (CHS) airports to support the Department of Defense in a national security effort. H/t WSJ’s Doug Cameron
— Vivian Salama (@vmsalama) February 4, 2023
Earlier Saturday, during a visit to Syracuse, New York, President Joe Biden was asked about the balloon.
“We’re gonna take care of it,” Biden said, according to Fox News. Earlier in the week, when the balloon was over Montana, Biden rejected calls to shoot it down.
I don’t know what Trump would have done had this Chinese military balloon come over on his watch. But that’s the point — China never would have dared to do such a thing on his watch. pic.twitter.com/vEBZAGNxqC
— Ezra Levant 🍁🚛 (@ezralevant) February 4, 2023
According to ABC News, a senior U.S. official said the military was likely waiting until the balloon was over the Atlantic Ocean to take action.
Throughout Saturday, reports of balloon sightings came from North Carolina and South Carolina.
Over in York County, South Carolina, officials warned residents not to try to shoot the balloon.
“That’s no moon.” Yes, there are reports that the Chinese balloon is flying over our area at the moment. It’s flying at 60,000+ feet. Don’t try to shoot it!! Your rifle rounds WILL NOT reach it. Be responsible. What goes up will come down, including your bullets #YCSONews pic.twitter.com/SeT0ZTUTvy
— York County Sheriff (@YCSO_SC) February 4, 2023
A former pilot said the balloon is not as easy a target as it appears, according to Business Insider.
Most weapons systems “weren’t designed to shoot down things operating at the kinds of high altitude balloons can operate at,” said Brynn Tannehill, a former naval aviator and senior technical analyst at the RAND Corporation think tank.
An F-22 has a normal range of up to 50,000 feet, which would put it about 10,000 feet below the balloon, she said.
And missile systems “aren’t designed to attack balloons because balloons don’t look like the kind of valid targets that they were designed to attack,” she explained.
“It’s very difficult with what we have because what we have was not meant to shoot down balloons.”
On Friday, U.S. officials said a second balloon was flying over Latin America. According to CNN, reports have come in during the week of a balloon flying over Costa Rica and Colombia.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.