Washington publishes the “selfie” of a pilot who flew over the Chinese spy balloon

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Washington releases “selfie” of pilot flying over Chinese spy balloon

US Department of Defense Getty Images via Agence France-Presse Photo released by the Pentagon shows the balloon floating over a wide expanse in the central United States on February 3 and the pilot of the U2 plane watching.

The US Department of Defense released a high-altitude selfie taken by a pilot from the cockpit of a U2 spy plane that was flying near a Chinese balloon that Washington accused of collecting intelligence, on the eve of its destruction by the US military.

This balloon, described by China as a “civilian aircraft used for research purposes, mainly meteorological”, was shot down on February 4 on the orders of US President Joe Biden.

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The case has intensified tension between Washington and Beijing. The United States believes the balloon was led by the Chinese military and was part of a fleet sent by Beijing over more than 40 countries on five continents for espionage purposes.

The photo released by the Pentagon on Wednesday shows the white balloon hovering over a wide expanse in the central United States on February 3 and the pilot of the U2 aircraft watching it.

On the shot, solar panels are visible under the balloon and the pilot's helmet appears in the foreground.

On the radar of “Dragon Lady”

The next day, an F-22 fighter jet shot down the balloon over the Atlantic near the coast of South Carolina, with the Pentagon citing an “unacceptable violation” of American “sovereignty.”

< p>The photo first circulated on the Dragon Lady Today website — the U2 plane is commonly nicknamed “Dragon Lady” — and a Pentagon spokeswoman, Sabrina Singh, confirmed its authenticity on Wednesday during a press conference.

The American media jumped on the cliché. CNN previously reported the selfie “already endowed with legendary status both at NORAD [North American Aerospace Defense Command] and the Pentagon.”

The U2 reconnaissance aircraft, designed to fly up to more than 21,000 meters in altitude and thus allow the espionage of enemy territories, is reputed to be one of the most difficult aircraft in the world. world to drive. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, he rose to fame when one was shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960.