NEW DELHI: India will take up with Pakistan the issue of air intrusion by a huge balloon which was shot down by a Sukhoi-30MKI after it was detected coming from across the border into the Barmer region of Rajasthan by IAF radars on Tuesday morning.
Though the “commercial” balloon manufactured by a US company did not contain any suspicious payload like sensors and cameras or any explosive material, sources said it could have been used to probe Indian air defence capabilities. It’s a standard military practice to fly aircraft, helicopters, drones and the like near a border to test an adversary’s sensors and reaction time.
Interestingly, “Happy Birthday” and “CUPAFLOAT” were written on the helium-filled, 3-metre diameter balloon, which was at an altitude of 7.9-km when it was shot down by the Sukhoi at around 10.30am on Tuesday. Taking no chances amid a high security alert around the country on Republic Day, the Sukhoi fired as many as 97 rounds from its 30mm GSh-301 auto-cannon at the balloon to ensure it was destroyed in the air.
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