Chinese spy balloon: U-2 spy plane airman took selfie with surveillance balloon

The Department of Defense has released an image of a selfie taken of the pilot of a U-2 plane with the Chinese spy balloon in the background.

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The photo, which was first reported by CNN, was taken in the cockpit of an American surveillance aircraft.

The image was taken on Feb. 3 and the pilot’s identity was not released, NBC News reported.

The spy balloon, which was first discovered by the U.S. on Jan 28, crossed the country and was eventually shot down off the coast of South Carolina by an F-22 fighter jet, The Associated Press reported. The military waited to shoot it down until it hit the ocean because of its size — about the length of three school buses — and fears that the debris could hurt someone or something.

The State Department said that fly-bys “revealed that the high-altitude balloon was capable of conducting signals intelligence collection operations.”

The U-2 is a single-seat, high-altitude aircraft flown higher than 70,0000 feet that has “glider-like characteristics.” Pilots have to wear pressurized suits similar to the ones worn by astronauts because of the altitude.

The photo taken Feb. 3 shows the U-2 above the balloon, which was flying at 60,000 feet when it was seen over Montana, about a week after the device was first seen over Alaska. The balloon was expected to continue flying north but took an unexpected turn south.

The payload and wreckage from the spy balloon were recovered and taken to the FBI lab in Quantico, NBC News reported.

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