Why did the US military use missiles instead of machine guns to shoot down Chinese reconnaissance balloons?

On February 5, 2023, a Chinese reconnaissance balloon crossing US airspace

was shot down by US forces in the Atlantic Ocean. The air-to-air missile AIM-9 'Sidewinder' was used to shoot down the reconnaissance balloon, but the reason why expensive air-to-air missiles were used instead of using relatively low-costcannons mounted on fighter aircraft are being discussed.

military - If a balloon lies within gun range, why would a 21st century warplane shoot it with a missile, instead of rotary guns? - Aviation Stack Exchange

On the aviation bulletin board site ' Aviation ', a thread was set up asking, 'Why did a state-of-the-art fighter shoot missiles instead of cannons even though the balloon was within range of the cannons?' It is

One user responded to this question by quoting former CIA analyst Gail Heldt, who said, 'Because the size of the balloon is so large that there is little pressure difference between the inside and the outside of the balloon flying at high altitudes, Even if the balloon is shot with a machine gun and a hole is created, it will not fall immediately.Also, it will slowly lose altitude before falling to the ground, drifting at a low altitude where civilian aircraft fly, and fly nearby. It poses a danger to the aircraft,' he said.

Furthermore, the purpose of this attack was not only to shoot down the reconnaissance balloon, but also to recover the installed instruments. Therefore, it is said that there is a possibility that a missile that can accurately attack with infrared guidance was used without using a machine gun that could destroy the instruments.

In 1998,

two fighter jets fired more than 1,000 rounds at an out-of-control balloon in Canada, but failed to shoot it down. It has been reported that there have been cases of

The assumed maximum altitude of the balloon this time is estimated to be 65,000 feet (about 20,000 meters), which is almost the same as the maximum altitude reached by the F-22. In order for the F-22 to fly at such a high altitude, it is necessary to generate sufficient lift by flying at supersonic speed. When using cannons at high altitudes, supersonic aircraft are faster than bullets, and it has been pointed out that there is a danger of shooting yourself down.

Also, the movement speed of the balloon moving with the wind is very slow. On the other hand, since the fighter plane flies at supersonic speed, it is very difficult to accurately aim at the target balloon and fire the cannon, and if it gets too close, the fighter plane and the balloon may collide in the air. Additionally, if the balloon is flying higher than the fighter, the fighter may not be able to nose up and fire.

On the other hand, in the case of missile attacks, it covers all the problems of cannon attacks. The missile has its own engine, so it cannot be overtaken by fighters flying at supersonic speeds. Also, missiles with guidance systems are supposed to be able to hit targets accurately at any altitude.

Based on the nature of such balloons and the problem of attacks by machine guns, it is believed that the US military attacked with air-to-air missiles in order to shoot down safely and reliably.

in Note,   Ride, Posted by log1r_ut