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10. China, 2001
After a Chinese fighter jet collided with a U.S. EP-3 Aries reconnaissance aircraft in international waters off China, this IKONOS image of the crippled U.S. plane sitting on the parking ramp of an airbase on China's Hainan Island shortly after it landed there became an icon for the crisis between the U.S. and China. (The Chinese pilot ejected from his plane, which then crashed in the ocean, but he was never found.) The image also demonstrated the ability of commercial satellite imagery to quickly tell a story in a denied country. The Chinese government eventually allowed U.S. officials to dismantle and retrieve the plane using a Russian transport aircraft.

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