The United States Department of Defense (DOD) has released a unique look at the Chinese spy balloon that traveled across the country earlier this month. While rumors of the photo had been circulating since early February, the DOD just released the image to the press yesterday. Taken by a U-2 spy plane pilot who was tracking the balloon, the cockpit selfie shows just how big it was.
The image was taken about a week after the Chinese balloon entered U.S. airspace, causing alarm. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) then sent U-2 jets to identify and track the unusual device. According to the Air Force, the U-2 “provides high-altitude, all-weather surveillance and reconnaissance, day or night, in direct support of U.S. and allied forces.”
U-2 planes kept an eye on the balloon as it bobbed across the country. It was then shot down by an F-22 Raptor fighter jet off the coast of North Carolina after it reached the Atlantic Ocean. While some have been critical of the decision to wait to shoot down the balloon, the Pentagon said this was necessary given its large size and the risk of falling debris causing damage.
The recovery of the debris concluded on February 17 and pieces have now been sent to the FBI for investigation. While the Chinese government has repeatedly declared that the incident was a misunderstanding caused by a civilian weather balloon gone astray, the Biden administration strongly disagrees. They have called it “part of a larger Chinese surveillance-balloon program.”
The U.S. Department of Defense recently released a selfie showing a view of the Chinese spy balloon from a U-2 spy plane.
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