A pilot's black shiny helmet seen from the side with view forward through the window of a U-2 plane. A white round balloon floats over the US with a solar-powered payload dangling below it.

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. 

See also…

  • No Indication of Aliens With Shot-Down Flying Objects, White House Says
  • US Shoots Down Suspected Chinese Spy Balloon Over Atlantic

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 was no evidence of alien or extraterrestrial activity with any of them. As Singh reiterated during the briefing, “These were not UFOs.”

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