The Chinese balloon that flew over North America in early February continues to cause repercussions. After rumors of its existence, a high-resolution image taken by a pilot of the U-2 spy plane was released on Wednesday by the Pentagon.
It brings incredible detail to the massive Chinese surveillance balloon, which was brought down by an AIM-9X missile fired by an F-22 Raptor fighter.
The pilot’s selfie draws attention right from the start for showing the shadow of the Lockheed plane over the balloon’s casing, confirming the information that the vehicle would have something like 200 feet in diameter.
But it is in the details that the photo is most surprising as it shows the structure transported by the balloon, which includes huge solar panels and various equipment and sensors in its central section.
The image suggests that the balloon would actually be a kind of “airship” as it is possible to notice four sets very similar to propellers. It could only sound like a guess had the Pentagon itself not previously stated that the Chinese air vehicle had “the ability to maneuver”.
The ability to be guided would debunk the Chinese government’s claim that the balloon had deviated from its course due to unexpected winds.
The existence of the image had already been rumored for weeks and famous within the Department of Defense. It was eventually revealed by British writer Chris Pocock, specializing in the history of the Lockheed U-2 Dragon Lady.
Former editor of Aviation International News, Pocock published a low-resolution copy of the pilot’s selfie on Tuesday, showing the aircraft flying above the balloon, one of its unique capabilities.