The Department of Defense released this view of a U-2 pilot tracking the Chinese balloon over the US the day before a US fighter aircraft shot it down on Feb. 4, 2023.
Department of Defense
A suspected spy balloon belonging to China is coming into better focus thanks to a dramatic photo released by the US Department of Defense on Wednesday. The image stars a U-2 spy plane pilot’s shiny helmet with a view out the window at the round, white balloon and the mysterious payload it carried.
The image comes from Feb. 3, the day before an F-22 fighter aircraft shot the balloon down over the Atlantic Ocean. China has insisted the balloon was used for meteorological research, but the US has labeled it a surveillance balloon.
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Deputy Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh held a briefing on Wednesday and provided updates on operations related to the balloon, saying the majority of the balloon, including its payload, was recovered.
The U-2 plane has a long history dating back to its first use in the 1950s. It’s designed to operate at high altitudes for reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering missions, making it an apt choice for spying on a spy balloon.
The balloon was one of a series of objects shot down by the military in recent weeks. The White House emphasized there waswith any of them. As Singh reiterated during the briefing, “These were not UFOs.”