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    When a Weather Balloon Went Rogue Two Decades Ago, Fighter Jets Fired at It but Couldn’t Bring It Down

    When a Weather Balloon Went Rogue Two Decades Ago, Fighter Jets Fired at It but Couldn’t Bring It Down

    Read the original article on Business Insider.

    Almost 25 years ago, a large runaway weather balloon proved to be quite challenge a for a pair of fighter jets trying to shoot it down, staying in the even after more than 1,000 rounds were fired at it.

    The research balloon was measuring ozone levels above Canada, the Associated Press reported at the time. It went rogue in August 1998, passing across Canada, over the Atlantic Ocean, and through British airspace before entering 's airspace and then drifting northward. 

    Two Royal Canadian Air CF-18 fighter aircraft spotted the balloon over Newfoundland and fired more than 1,000 rounds at it. The AP reported that the jets, Canadian variants of the American F/A-18 Hornet, hit the balloon, but rather than popping or exploding and crashing to the earth, it slowly began leaking helium. The big balloon was still in the air.

    A Canadian spokesperson, a lieutenant named Steve Wills, told BBC that it was difficult to target the balloon, even though it was about the size of a 25-story building, and that the failure to take it out wasn't embarrassing.

    “With something like this, which is stationary in the air when the CF-18s are flying very, very fast, it is difficult to shoot it,” Wills said.

    The CF-18s were reportedly equipped with air-to-air missiles, but Canadian Major Roland Lavoie told AP the pilots refrained from using them. 

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