Photo of the day: U-2 Dragon Lady pilot takes selfies with a Chinese balloon before being destroyed
This month, an F-22 Raptor fighter destroyed a Chinese balloon with a Sidewinder missile. Other U.S. Air Force aircraft were involved in the operation. One airman was able to take selfies with the balloon before it was destroyed.
Here's What We Know
The balloon was spotted over US territory in late January. On February 4, it was shot down by an F-22 Raptor fighter that F-22 Raptor uses state-of-the-art AIM-9X Sidewinder missile to destroy Chinese spy balloon that was spying on US strategic targets. It was later revealed that F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters, a KC-135 Stratotanker air refueler, a Lockheed HC-130 rescue aircraft, a P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft and at least two U-2 Dragon Lady scouts were involved.
The Chinese balloon was hovering at an altitude of about 20km, i.e. it did not threaten civil aviation. At least one photo of the balloon was previously known to exist and was taken from the cockpit of the U-2. CNN reported that the image had become legendary, and The War Zone contacted the US Air Force and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) for information on the photo.
THE U-2 AND BALLOONS - SOME HISTORY, AND SOME THOUGHTS https://t.co/47SV5BppaU- Chris Pocock (@UKdragonChris) February 21, 2023
And so Chris Pocock, aviation journalist, author and U-2 expert, posted the photo on his Dragon Lady Today website. The photo shows the reconnaissance aircraft over a Chinese balloon. The U-2 is the only aircraft in the U.S. military that can fly at altitudes above 21 km. In addition, the photo demonstrates that there is a payload underneath the balloon.
US officials have previously claimed that the balloon was monitoring strategic targets. It was about 200ft (61m) in diameter and the payload could have weighed more than 200lb (900kg). Experts are already investigating the balloon after the military recovered the wreckage from the water.
Source: Dragon Lady Today