Suspected Chinese Spy Balloon Pictured in Selfie Taken By Pilot of U.S. Spy Plane 

The U.S. Department of Defense released an image of the suspected spy balloon taken from a U-2 aircraft on Thursday

U.S. Air Force pilot looks down at the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon as it hovered over the Central Continental, United States February 3, 2023. Recovery efforts began shortly after the balloon was downed.
Suspected Chinese surveillance balloon. Photo: US Department of Defense / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty

The U.S. Department of Defense is showing off its selfie skills.

On Thursday, the department released an image of the suspected Chinese spy balloon that was shot down off the Carolina coast earlier this month.

Dated Feb. 3, just one day before the balloon was destroyed on live television, the image shows a U.S. Air Force pilot looking out his cockpit window and down at the device as it flies across Montana.

The image was captured in a U-2 aircraft, described by its manufacturer Lockheed Martin as an "agile and reliable high-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft."

In a Pentagon press briefing on Wednesday, Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh shared that search operations for the balloon and its debris concluded last week, and confirmed that the balloon and its payload, including a sensor package, was recovered.

In this photo provided by Chad Fish, the remnants of a large balloon drift above the Atlantic Ocean, just off the coast of South Carolina, with a fighter jet and its contrail seen below it, Feb. 4, 2023. China, said U.S. accusations that a downed Chinese balloon was part of an extensive surveillance program amount to "information warfare against China China US, United States - 04 Feb 2023
Suspected Chinese Spy Balloon. Chad Fish/AP/Shutterstock

"I ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down on Wednesday as soon as possible," President Joe Biden told reporters about the decision to take out the balloon. "They decided — without doing damage to anyone on the ground — they decided that the best time to do that was [when] it got over water, within a 12-mile limit. They successfully took it down, and I want to compliment our aviators who did it."

"We'll have more to report on this a little later," Biden added, reiterating that he ordered the military "to shoot it down" before being asked to "wait for the safest place to do it."

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When it was hit the ballon was flying at an estimated 60,000 feet, per the Associated Press, which also noted that the Federal Aviation Administration and Coast Guard worked to clear the surrounding areas as it fell to the water.

U.S. military jets were flying in the area surrounding the balloon, as ships were positioned to recover debris, added the AP.

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The downing follows a statement from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) that it "paused departures from and arrivals to" three different airports "to support the Department of Defense in a national security effort."

In a follow-up tweet, the FAA announced that normal operations were "resuming" in Wilmington, N.C., Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Charleston, S.C.

The takedown of the suspected spy balloon came hours after Biden broke his silence about the matter when reporters in Syracuse asked him what his plans were to address it.

"We're gonna take care of it," Biden told CNN at the time.

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