Suspicious balloon spotted near Delhi airport
A security alert was sounded after Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) received a call around 5pm about a "big balloon" hovering over the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. However, the Delhi Police later said in a statement that it was actually a weather balloon belonging to the India Meteorological Department. What the balloon was doing in a no-fly zone still remains a mystery.
Mysterious balloon-shaped object shot down near Indo-Pak border
An Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi-30 fighter aircraft shot down a mysterious balloon-shaped object over Rajasthan's Barmer district, bordering Pakistan, as Republic Day celebrations went on in India. According to IAF officials, the object flew in from the western side around 10.30 am in the morning before it was intercepted. Thankfully, no harm was done to property or people living in the area.
The Aircraft Act, 1934
The balloon was shot down by the IAF as per Standard Operating Procedure in the event of a flying object invading Indian airspace. Reportedly, the Sukhoi-30 fired 97 rounds from its 30mm GSh-301 auto cannon while intercepting the balloon.
Investigation finds no dangerous payload on balloon
The ongoing investigation regarding the Republic Day border incident revealed that the balloon was a US-made helium-filled balloon which was flying at an altitude of 25,000 feet. The IAF stated that the balloon was shot down due to a "heightened security alert...as it would have been carrying an unknown payload." However, IAF officials confirmed that there was no dangerous payload found on the balloon.
The balloon shot down over Barmer
Investigation of the debris of the balloon which was shot down by the IAF over Barmer district in Rajasthan revealed that the balloon had a "Happy Birthday" message inscribed on it and was manufactured by Illinois-based CTI Industries.
Manohar Parrikar says balloon came from Pakistan
Defence Minister Manohar Parikar said that the balloon shot down on Republic Day came from Pakistan, although no surveillance devices or contentious material was found on it. Parrikar also said that the Ministry of External Affairs had been instructed to "do the needful". However, top Defence Ministry officials also said that the balloon was possibly floated into Indian airspace to gauge India's response time.