The U.S. Military released a selfie taken by the pilot of a U-2 spy plane that was monitoring the Chinese spy balloon that was shot down earlier this month off the coast of South Carolina.
The spy balloon was first detected over U.S. airspace on January 28 and was shot down a week later after President Joe Biden allowed it to travel across the entire country, flying over sensitive military sites.
The photo was taken as it hovered over the Central Continental United States February 3, 2023, the Pentagon said.
CNN first reported the existence of the photo.
News: DoD has released a selfie taken in the cockpit of a U-2 spy plane, as an airman flew above the Chinese surveillance balloon shot down by the US military earlier this month.
CNN first reported the existence of the selfie. pic.twitter.com/4TBsBnFdk4
— Zachary Cohen (@ZcohenCNN) February 22, 2023
The U.S. Department of Defense just released this photo of the Chinese government spy balloon that was taken by the pilot of a U-2 spy plane. pic.twitter.com/gxXn4RiZTO
— Yashar Ali 🐘 یاشار (@yashar) February 22, 2023
The spy balloon was finally shot down over the Atlantic Ocean on February 4th when the U.S. military used an F-22 Raptor to down the object with a single air-to-air AIM-9X Sidewinder missile.
VanHerck, Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), said that the balloon was up to 200 feet tall and weighed “in excess of a couple thousand pounds.”
After the spy balloon was shot down, the U.S. subsequently downed three more unidentified objects over Alaska, Lake Huron, and Canada.
“It is also common for U.S. balloons to illegally enter the airspace of other countries,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin claimed without evidence. “Since last year, U.S. high-altitude balloons have illegally flown over China’s airspace more than 10 times without the approval of Chinese authorities.”
National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said that the communist nation’s claims were a lie and that China was trying to deflect from the embarrassing situation they have caused.
“It is China that has a high-altitude surveillance balloon program for intelligence collection, connected to the People’s Liberation Army, that it has used to violate the sovereignty of the United States and over 40 countries across five continents,” Watson tweeted.
“This is the latest example of China scrambling to do damage control,” she continued. “It has repeatedly and wrongly claimed the surveillance balloon it sent over the United States was a weather balloon and to this day has failed to offer any credible explanations for its intrusion into our airspace and the airspace of others.”
This report has been updated to include additional information.