The Pentagon just released a new photo of the Chinese spy balloon that the U.S. military ultimately shot down over the Atlantic Ocean.
Fox News Digital shared the picture, which a fighter pilot captured on Feb. 3, on Twitter today. In it, we can see the pilot tracking the vessel from their U-2. Behind the balloon, the central continental United States is visible.
The balloon had been floating over the country for a week before an F-22 took it down with one shot on Feb. 4.
Chinese Spy Balloon Wreckage Sent to FBI Headquarters in Quantico
Recovery efforts for the wreckage concluded on Feb. 17, reported CNN. And the FBI headquarters in Quantico will study it in the coming days or weeks.
“Final pieces of debris are being transferred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory in Virginia for counterintelligence exploitation, as has occurred with the previous surface and subsurface debris recovered,” the US Northern Command said in a statement. “U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard vessels have departed the area. Air and maritime safety perimeters have been lifted,” the statement added.
The Chinese government originally claimed that the craft was a weather balloon that had inadvertently drifted into U.S. airspace. But when the military retrieved the wreckage, it determined it was being used for intelligence surveillance.
ABC News reported that the object was around 200 feet tall. And divers collected a payload that was about the size of three city buses.
A senior official at the State Department later said that the balloon held “multiple antennas” that were “likely capable of collecting and geo-locating communications,” according to CBS News.
China Maintains that Balloon was a Civilian Craft
Nonetheless, China has maintained that it did not send the balloon into the country. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning also blasted the Whitehouse saying it “overreacted” when Biden order it to be shot down.
On Feb. 13, China fired back again and claimed that the U.S. flew its own balloons over China’s airspace. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that more than 10 balloons passed over the county without permission since early 2022.
“Since last year, the U.S.’s high-altitude balloons have undergone more than 10 illegal flights into Chinese airspace without the approval of the relevant Chinese departments,” she said in a statement per Reuters.
Wenbin did not specify if the crafts were civilian or military.
U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson denied the accusation saying, “Any claim that the U.S. government operates surveillance balloons over the PRC [People’s Republic of China] is false.”