Chinese balloons flying over the USA and Canada continue to be on the agenda. The Pentagon shared a selfie taken from the camera of a pilot on the US planes who intervened in the incident.
The US Department of Defense (Pentagon) has released a photo taken by a pilot flying over a Chinese balloon that was downed earlier this month.
The selfie was taken from the cockpit of a U-2 spy plane while tracking the progress of the high-altitude balloon over the continental US. While the selfie was taken, top US military officials were watching the bubble closely.
SAID CHINESE METEOROLOGY TOOL
Beijing said the balloon was a meteorological ship that went off course.
But Washington claims the bubble is part of an expanding Chinese intelligence-gathering program.
At least two aircraft collected information on the characteristics and trajectory of the balloon flying over the United States.
A senior US State Department official said earlier this month that the flights had “revealed the ability to conduct intelligence-gathering operations.”
DISCOVERED AT THE END OF JANUARY
Authorities discovered the balloon when it entered Alaskan airspace on January 28.
Warplanes belonging to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), a joint operation between the USA and Canada, identified the foreign object. NORAD did not immediately drop the balloon.
Officials explained that they would not be able to shoot the balloon from land because the size of the balloon and possibly the debris field posed a threat to civilians on the ground.
A defense official told US lawmakers earlier this month that the balloon was as tall as the Statue of Liberty and had a “jet plane-sized payload”.
The Pentagon’s selfie was taken the day before the plane crashed off the South Carolina coast on February 4. The photo reportedly “gained legendary status” within the Pentagon.
It was said that the balloon was floating at an altitude of 18,200 meters in the air.
According to the Air Force, U-2 aircraft routinely fly at altitudes above 21,000 meters (70,000 feet).
The single-man reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft, nicknamed the Dragon Lady, had previously been flown by the CIA. Pilots operating this aircraft wear full-pressure suits similar to those worn by astronauts.
Rescue efforts for the balloon’s remnants scattered in the Atlantic Ocean ended last week.
Sabrina Singh, the Pentagon’s deputy press secretary, said parts of the wreckage, including its payload, were recovered and examined.