A US-made helium-filled balloon that was shot down by a Sukhoi-30 fighter aircraft over Rajasthan had come in from Pakistan and could have been an attempt to gauge India’s response time, top government sources said today.
The Defence Ministry has now written to the Ministry of External Affairs informing it about the incident.
The shiny 3 metres in diametre balloon, with “Happy Birthday” written on it, was flying at a height of about 25,000 feet in Jaisalmer district when it was picked up by the air force radars which were on high alert in view of Republic Day celebrations.
“Our radars picked up a shiny flying object entering our air space. A fighter jet was quickly scrambled which intercepted it and shot it down,” Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said without elaborating, on the sidelines of an event here when asked about yesterday’s incident.
The Indian Air Force said in a statement, “Due to heightened security alert, the balloon was shot down as it would have been carrying unknown payload. However, on analysis of the debris it was established that there was no dangerous payload.”