Indian Air Force Su 30 MKI fires million dollars missile to shoot down a Pakistani Happy Birthday Balloon?
NEW DELHI/JAIPUR: 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.
However the sources reveal, The Indian Defence Ministry has now written to the Ministry of External Affairs informing it about the incident.
The shiny 3 meters in diameter 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. First, the fighter jet fired 1000 of round but the balloon didn't affected. Then Indian Air Force decided to take down Balloon with an A2A missile," 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 an unknown payload. However, on analysis of the debris, it was established that there was nothing dangerous found in it."
Meanwhile, government sources said that balloon, made by an American company, was flying at an altitude higher than that of a helicopter (18,000 feet) and hence leaving nothing to chance, it was shot down.
The wind speed was also high and the threat level was high.
"Investigation is on but it could have been an attempt to check our response time," they said, adding that IAF followed the protocol by scrambling the jet and shooting the object down.
As per the Aircraft Act 1934, "aircraft" means any machine which can derive support in the atmosphere from reactions of the air, (other than reactions of the air against the Earth's surface) and includes balloons, whether fixed or free, airships, kites, gliders, and flying machines.
The balloon was manufactured by Illinois based firm CTI Industries.