The US Department of Defense on Wednesday released the selfie taken from the cockpit of a U-2 spy plane as a pilot flew over a Chinese observation balloon that was shot down by the US military earlier this month.
• Also read: UFO shot down in Yukon launched by American balloon enthusiasts?
• Also read: NORAD intercepted four Russian planes
The snapshot, taken by the U-2 pilot, shows the aircraft’s shadow on the balloon and a clear image of the balloon’s payload as it crossed the American continent.
The ball was first spotted by the United States on January 28th. The US Army finally dropped her off South Carolina after she crossed the country.
The Pentagon’s deputy press secretary, Sabrina Singh, said Wednesday that the balloon had been recovered.
A senior US State Department official said earlier this month that “the high-altitude blimp was capable of conducting intelligence-gathering operations.”
The officials also argued that the balloon could not conduct significant intelligence gathering operations, in part because the United States took steps to protect itself from it immediately after its discovery.
The U-2 is a single-seat, high-altitude reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft that has “glider-like characteristics,” according to the Air Force.
Because airplanes routinely fly “at altitudes over 70,000 feet, ‘pilots’ must wear a full pressure suit similar to those worn by astronauts”.
At the time the image was taken, the balloon was hovering at 60,000 feet when it was spotted over Montana.
Defense officials said the photo was taken a week after the airship entered US airspace near Alaska, and NORAD sent fighter jets for a positive identification.
However, the officials tracking the ball saw no cause for concern. At the time, according to U.S. officials, the airship was scheduled to cruise over Alaska and continue on a northern course that intelligence and military officials could track and study.
He alarmed the authorities by heading south unexpectedly.
Once on US soil, officials argued that the benefits of gathering additional information about the balloon far outweighed the risk of launching it over the ground.
The US has sent U-2 spy planes to track the balloon’s progress, according to US officials.
Recovery efforts began immediately after the balloon was dropped over the Atlantic Ocean on February 4 and ended on February 17. Pieces of the wreckage were taken to an FBI laboratory in Virginia for investigation.
“Total coffee aficionado. Travel buff. Music ninja. Bacon nerd. Beeraholic.”
on video | 9 miners are miraculously expelled from a collapsed mine in Congo
Lab-grown meat: mammoth meatballs
Belarus hosts Russian nuclear weapons in response to Western ‘pressure’