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Sidewinder shot down Chinese Spy Balloon

By Alice Campbell, Retired Weapons Analyst and Mathmation from China Lake–

From available press reports, a Sidewinder AIM-9X missile was fired at the Chinese spy balloon off the South Carolina coast on Saturday, 4 February, by one of two Air Force F-22 Raptor Fighter aircraft flying at an altitude of 58,000 feet.  The balloon was flying between 60,000 and 65,000 feet.

The Sidewinder missile was originally invented at China Lake Naval Ordnance Test Station by Dr. William McLean, whose patent drawings are in the China Lake Base Museum.  The most recent version of the Sidewinder was produced by Raytheon. Sidewinder was first flown in combat successfully by Taiwan, then threatened by Communist China, similar to today.  “Four F-86F, Sidewinder equipped, engaged CHICOM MIG 17s.  First employment of the system in combat.  Six weapons fired—four kills”, a quote from the original situation report in the book “The Magnificent Mavericks, History of the Navy at China Lake, California Vol. 3” by Elizabeth Babcock, available for purchase in the China Lake Museum Gift Shop in Ridgecrest.  These Sidewinder stories and hardware displays will be moved to the Ridgecrest China Lake Museum after the new Exhibit Center construction is complete.