If you thought that an F-22 Raptor firing an AIM-9X Sidewinder missile at one of the alleged Chinese spy balloons that flew over the United States was the most spectacular thing you’d see about this controversy, I’m sorry to tell you that you were wrong. In the last few hours An incredible photograph taken from a Lockheed U-2 plane flying over the device of Asian origin has gone viral.
Yes, a pilot of one of the most important spy planes in history took a selfies on the apparent Chinese surveillance balloon, just hours before it was shot down. The image came to light last Tuesday in an article by Chris Pocock, an experienced journalist dedicated to the aeronautical world. However, the quality of the photography was not the best. In fact, it looked like a photo taken of a screen where the image was originally displayed.
But the US Department of Defense finally has confirmed the veracity of material obtained from the Lockheed U-2. Yesterday afternoon, the Pentagon’s deputy press secretary, Sabrina Singh, confirmed that the “postcard” of the peculiar event was real. Asked about the issue in a meeting with journalists yesterday afternoon, the official was blunt. Yes, I saw that report. I can confirm the authenticity of the photo and we are planning to publish it. If all goes well, you’ll soon receive something in your inbox,” she said.
Details regarding the close encounter between the Lockheed U-2 and the first of China’s spy balloons to fly over North America remain scant. The DoD indicates that the photograph was captured on Friday, February 3; that is to say, the day before the US Air Force shot it down off the coast of South Carolina.
A Lockheed U-2, ‘face to face’ with an alleged Chinese spy balloon
The image that the Lockheed U-2 pilot captured while flying over the apparent Chinese spy balloon carries great value. In fact, CNN reported its existence just days after the downing of the device using an F-22 Raptor. Nevertheless, the data went completely unnoticed, since it had not been disclosed. And considering the secrecy that still surrounds this controversy with the Asian giant, there was nothing to suggest that he would reveal it to the public.
“The United States sent U-2 spy planes to track the balloon’s progress, according to US officials. A pilot took a selfies in the cockpit showing both him and the surveillance balloon itself, these officials said, an image that has already gained legendary status at both NORAD and the Pentagon.”
CNN, about the existence of the selfies about the Chinese spy balloon.
When I say that photography carries a very important value, it is not only because of the current context, but for the story of the Lockheed U-2 itself. Such aircraft were developed in the 1950s for CIA spy missions over the Soviet Union, replacing the unsuccessful US stratospheric balloon surveillance program.
For years, the spy plane was able to operate with absolute impunity in Soviet airspace. To the point that Carmine Vito was the only pilot to fly directly over Moscow, while he watched as multiple fighter jets took off desperate to try to catch up with him. His ability to fly at more than 21,000 meters high it was all it needed to avoid being intercepted or shot down, at least until the introduction of surface-to-air missiles. the notorious case by Francis Gary PowersIn 1960, the landscape for this type of excursions changed.
a spy game
The Lockheed U-2 has been in service uninterrupted since its introduction, although now under USAF rather than CIA command. It is true that in all this time it has received updates and modernizations, but it is still surprising that the aircraft continues in service. almost 68 years after its first flight. From 1955 to date, no other machine capable of providing its same characteristics has been developed. Which, logically, has forced the postponement of any retirement plan.
The case of the Chinese spy balloons that have flown over North America has once again put the Lockheed U-2 at the center of the scene. For a moment at least has returned to the bases that fueled his top-secret missions during the Cold War. And the selfies of the pilot, which even allows us to see the shadow of the plane on the surface of the globe, does nothing but perfectly portray this game of spies that the United States and the Asian giant are currently starring in.
For the time being, the US authorities have brought down four unidentified objects over USA and Canada. However, the three remaining cases they had not reciprocated to potential Chinese spy balloons, as if the first.