Imphal: Could the ‘UFO’ Spotted Near Airport Be a Chinese Spy Balloon?

1 min read
imphal ufo 222112955

The appearance of an unidentified flying object (UFO) near Imphal airport in Manipur has raised concerns within the Indian security establishment. The Indian Air Force (IAF) took action by deploying fully-equipped Rafale jets from the No. 101 Squadron ‘Falcons’ stationed at Hasimara Air Force Station in West Bengal on November 19. Despite their advanced sensors and low-level flight maneuvers, the Rafales failed to locate the ‘UFO’.

While some speculate that the object might have been a privately flown drone near the airport, there’s a possibility, not ruled out, that it could have been a Chinese military spy balloon. Video footage captured by witnesses suggested the object resembled a white balloon similar to the one encountered in the United States in February, which was shot down off the coast of South Carolina, sparking tensions between the US and China.

Although the Imphal incident didn’t yield significant findings, there are suspicions that China might have used the object to test India’s responsiveness and readiness.

The ‘UFO’ sighting resulted in the suspension of operations at Imphal’s Bir Tikendrajit International Airport for nearly two hours. The IAF Eastern Command initiated ‘Mission Red & Mission Blue’ at 3:55 pm on November 19, deploying fighter planes in the Imphal airspace for about two hours until 5:35 pm. Flight operations resumed at 5:50 pm following clearance from the IAF.

According to official statements, the air defence response mechanism was activated based on visual inputs from Imphal airport, after which the small ‘UFO’ was no longer visible.

These spy balloons are part of China’s surveillance strategies. In addition to the US incident, Japan reported three ‘balloon-shaped flying objects’ in its airspace between November 2019 and September 2021, believed to be Chinese ‘unmanned reconnaissance’ aircraft. Taiwan also reported similar aerial objects earlier this year.

Operated by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s Strategic Support Force (SSF), these balloons are suspected to possess detection, fight capabilities, and near-earth space communication relay functions for ground personnel. Defence experts suggest they might be jointly developed by the Nanjiang Aerospace Technology Company and the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

A recent Pentagon report revealed that the SSF is a theatre command-level organization responsible for the PLA’s strategic space, cyberspace, electronic, information, communications, and psychological warfare missions and capabilities. It operates tracking, telemetry, and command stations in various global locations and continues to develop anti-satellite missiles and other counter-space capabilities.

(With Inputs from India Today)

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

Discover more from The Kashmir Monitor

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading