(KTXL) — Beale Air Force shared images on Tuesday of photos of the Chinese surveillance balloon taken by one of their U-2 Dragon Lady pilots in early February.
The balloon was traveling over the central continental United States on Feb. 3 when the high-altitude photo was taken by the pilot.
– Video above: U-2 pilot describes her experience in aviation
The balloon was eventually shot down off the coast of South Carolina by an AIM-9X Sidewinder missile launched from a F-22 Raptor at around 65,000 feet.
Beale Air Force Base is the home base for the U-2’s of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing that are then deployed worldwide, according to the United State’s Air Force.
“The U-2 is capable of gathering a variety of imagery, including multi-spectral electro-optic, infrared, and synthetic aperture radar products which can be stored or sent to ground exploitation centers, the USAF writes about the U-2. “In addition, it also supports high-resolution, broad-area synoptic coverage provided by the optical bar camera producing traditional film products which are developed and analyzed after landing.”
Pilots are required to wear a pressurized suit, similar to those worn by astronauts, as the plane routinely operates at 70,000 feet.
The U-2 has been in service with the USAF since 1956 and modern upgrades could keep the “Lady Dragon” in the air well into the 21st century.