The F-22 that shot down the Chinese surveillance balloon used the callsign ‘FRANK01’ in an apparent tribute to a heroic WWI pilot

  • On Saturday, F-22 pilots shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon hovering near South Carolina.

  • The pilots wore the callsigns “FRANK01” and “FRANK02”, an apparent tribute to a First World War hero.

  • Frank Luke Jr. was an aviator credited with shooting down 14 German balloons during the war.

When F-22 pilots shot down a hovering Chinese surveillance balloon near South Carolina on Saturday, the airmen’s call signs contained an apparent tribute to a World War I hero.

The spectators applauded the pilots recognized as ‘FRANK01’ and ‘FRANK02’ circled the Chinese spy balloon near Myrtle Beach as it flew over the Atlantic, waiting for the object to be safely removed from civilians on the ground to avoid the risk of falling debris.

Pilots use call signs instead of their names when communicating, both for security and identification purposes. The call signs “FRANK” appear to be a reference to a First World War pilot, Frank Luke, who became the first airman to receive the Medal of Honor after shooting down more than a dozen planes, including 10 spy balloons, in just eight days during the First World War.

“Military jets using the call sign ‘FRANK’ are significant,” said Marcus Weisgerber, global business editor for global security news agency Defense One. tweeted after the call signs have been identified by an air traffic control account. “Frank Luke Jr. was an American World War I fighter pilot, better known as the ‘Arizona Balloon Buster’. He is credited with shooting down 14 German surveillance balloons.

According to Air & Space Forces Magazine, Luke’s combat performance was unmatched by any other pilot in the war. The brash young pilot was driven by a desire for glory, the outlet reported – and his name and reputation have survived more than 100 years after his death at the hands of German soldiers.

“I’m going to make myself known or go where most of them go,” reported Air & Space Forces Magazine, which Luke wrote to his sister while in Season 27.

Luke, a second lieutenant, was killed after attempting an unauthorized balloon hunt behind enemy lines. His reputation as a hero was so fruitful that after his death rumors circulated that he killed seven other German soldiers who approached him as he lay dying before succumbing to a fatal machine gun wound.

He was posthumously awarded a Medal of Honor for his military victories and bravery.

“He was the most daring airman and the greatest fighter pilot of the entire war,” Capt. “Eddie” V. Rickenbacker said of Luke, according to the Air Force. Rickenbacker was the leading ace while Luke was the second World War I American ace. Ace Airmen are credited with shooting down five or more planes – and Luke achieved status on two missions in two days.

Rickenbacker added, “His life is one of our Air Service’s greatest accomplishments.”

The Air Force did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The modern balloon surveillance device shot down on Saturday – which Chinese authorities confirm originated in their country but claims to be a civilian airship used “for research purposes, mainly for meteorological purposes” – had previously been above of the continental United States for five days. beaten down.

The balloon was spotted in Alaska, over parts of Canada and rural Montana near a US nuclear base carrying 150 Minuteman ICBMs before blasting east over Missouri and eventually the South Carolina where he was shot.

A second Chinese surveillance balloon has been spotted hovering over Latin America.

Read the original article on Business Insider


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Can the surveillance balloon be located in China?

Surveillance balloons track prevailing winds

The US has accused China of dropping a surveillance balloon over sensitive US territory, but what evidence is there that it came from China?

Chinese authorities now say it is theirs but say it is for scientific research and has gone off the rails.

Where was the ball seen?

According to US authorities, the balloon was monitored as it passed over the Aleutian Islands of Alaska and Canadian territory before emerging over the town of Billings, Montana on Wednesday, where it was been spotted in the sky by locals.

Map showing Montana, Billings and Malmstrom Air Force Base

The Pentagon says it tracked the balloon over US airspace with manned aircraft and the surveillance device flew over sensitive locations.

Do we know where the ball comes from?

Not sure. We don’t have flight tracking data like we would have for airliners, for example, so we have to look to other sources of information.

One technique used to estimate the trajectory of particles or objects at high altitudes is to use a model based on wind speed and direction.

Map showing the balloon’s possible route from China to the United States

The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Department (NOAA) has developed such a model (known as HYSPLIT) based on winds at altitudes above 14,000 m (46,000 ft).

“Its main application,” says BBC Weather’s Simon King, “is to calculate the transport and spread of things like pollutants and hazardous substances through the atmosphere.

“The model also works in reverse – what is called the return trajectory – where we can see where anything that is carried in the air is coming from, such as pollutants, ash or other materials.

“In the case of the balloon over the United States, this return path can show where the air carrying the balloon is coming from and, by analyzing the direction and speed of the wind, where it will fly in the future. “

American meteorologist Dan Satterfield used this model to calculate a possible route that the surveillance balloon took and took shared their findings online.

From the position sighted in Montana on Feb. 1, he estimated a possible return route for the ball based on wind data from central China.

It should be emphasized that this is not the actual trajectory of the surveillance balloon, but an analysis based on the model developed by the US government agency NOAA.

Graphic of a high-altitude balloon showing a helium-filled balloon, solar panels, and an instrument bay that can hold cameras, radar, and communications equipment. They can fly at altitudes of 80,000 to 120,000 feet, higher than fighter jets and airliners


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