US Defense Department Releases Photo of Chinese Spy Balloon Prior to Its Destruction.
Pentagon has released a close-up photo of a Chinese spy balloon taken by a U-2 pilot just a day before it was shot down by an F-22 fighter jet off the coast of South Carolina. The photo, released more than two weeks after the balloon made international headlines, shows the top of the pilot’s helmet inside the U-2 cockpit with the balloon flying below. The U-2 Dragon Lady is a high-altitude US spy plane that has been in service since the 1950s.
The Pentagon announced that Navy ships and submersibles had completed the recovery of the massive balloon and its payload, which fell into the Atlantic Ocean. The payload was recovered from the ocean floor and is currently being analyzed by the FBI, according to Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh.
The shootdown of the Chinese spy balloon also led to the shooting down of three other smaller objects by Air Force jets within a period of eight days: one over Alaska, one over Canada, and one over Lake Huron. Searches for the Alaska and Lake Huron objects have ended, and it is unclear what they were or where they came from.
The US and China have been engaged in a long-standing trade war and have been increasing their military presence in the Asia-Pacific region. This incident highlights the growing tensions between the two nations and their efforts to maintain dominance in the region.