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‘Let Good People of Montana Do Their Thing’: Trump Jr. Says Locals Should Shoot Down Chinese Balloon

CC0 / / Shooting target
Shooting target - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.02.2023
With Americans fretting over the detection of a high-altitude Chinese balloon in US skies, the son of former President Donald Trump has taken a page out of his father’s book and called for US citizens to shoot the balloon down. There’s just one problem: it’s over 11 miles up.
After the Defense Department announced on Thursday it had detected a Chinese balloon soaring over the US state of Montana as early as Wednesday, US President Joe Biden asked military officials about their options. It was decided the balloon was too high up to pose any kind of danger where it was, and if shot down there was a chance it could pose a danger to both humans and equipment. Officials agreed it was best to let the balloon continue on as it was, while closely monitoring its status.
However, that wasn’t good enough for Donald Trump, Jr., the former president and real estate mogul’s eldest son. He took to Twitter on Friday to take a swing at Biden and to urge Montanans to do the same, but at the balloon.
"If Joe Biden and his administration are too weak to do the obvious and shoot down an enemy surveillance balloon perhaps we just let the good people of Montana do their thing," Junior wrote. "I imagine they have the capability and the resolve to do it all themselves."
It’s unclear exactly what Don, Jr. expects Montana residents to do. The balloon is floating above 60,000 feet, or more than 11 miles up. Not only would no personal firearms reach that high, most of the US Air Force’s fleet of fighter jets can’t even fly that high. As a result, the USAF transferred several F-22 Raptor fighters to Malmstrom Air Force Base, near which the balloon had flown. The advanced jets are the force’s only interceptors that can fly so high up, although it does have unarmed spy planes that can reach higher.
Some of the US military’s better surface-to-air missiles can reach that high, such as the SM-6, which is used to shoot down ballistic missiles and could potentially intercept satellites in low Earth orbit. However, no Montanans have such weapons.
Don’s father was reportedly given to making similar comments, such as when national security officials told US media in 2019 that then-President Trump had suggested using nuclear weapons against hurricanes heading toward the US mainland. Trump denied the reports.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Friday that the balloon was not a piece of military equipment, but was used for civilian scientific research and had blown off course. They apologized and declared force majeure. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has nonetheless postponed his trip to China, reportedly over fears his talks with senior Chinese leaders would be occupied with the balloon affair.
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