India, Rajasthan: On Wednesday, a United States (US) made balloon shot down by an Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jet in Rajasthan on Republic Day had come from Pakistan and may have been an attempt to test India’s defence and response time, sources in the Defence Ministry claimed.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said, “Our radars picked up a shiny flying object that came into our air space. A fighter jet was quickly scrambled which intercepted it and shot it down”. In a statement issued Wednesday, the IAF said, “Due to heightened security alert, the balloon (of about 3 meters in diameter) 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.”
IAF sources said the balloon, which had “Happy Birthday” written on it, was flying at an altitude of 8 km. The jets fired 97 rounds from the 30 mm cannon and brought the balloon down. Sources said the operation lasted about 15 minutes. “The bases were on high alert due to Republic Day. Otherwise, the response might have been different. But, standard operating procedures were followed,” an IAF official added.