The Indian Air Force scrambled two Rafale fighter jets to search for an ‘Unidentified flying object’ (UFO) after receiving information of its sighting near Bir Tikendrajit International (BTI) Airport in Manipur’s Imphal on Sunday.
A senior Airport Authority of India (AAI) official said that the flight operations at the BTI Airport in Imphal were suspended for three hours and twenty minutes from 2.30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon and the flight operations were resumed in the evening as usual after a “thorough checkup about the UFO”.
The official said that after the sighting of UFO within Imphal controlled airspace, two flights from Delhi and Guwahati have been diverted and three departing Agartala, Guwahati and Kolkata bound flights have been delayed and the flight operations restarted after getting clearance from the competent authority.
The UFO was reportedly sighted by the Central Industrial Security Force personnel and a pilot of a private airliner before his flight was about to depart around 2.20 PM.
There is no immediate clarification on the identity and motive of the object, but sources said the Director General of Civil Aviation and Indian Air Force are jointly looking into it. After receiving inputs about the presence of an UFO near the Imphal airport in Manipur, the IAF launched one Rafale from Hashimara but it could not see anything.
The first aircraft returned to its base and another one was launched towards the area to double check but it could also not ascertain anything on the location and nearby areas.
In a post on X, Eastern Command said, “IAF activated its Air Defence response mechanism based on visual inputs from Imphal airport. The small object was not seen thereafter.”
Manipur, which has been witnessing ethnic riot since May 3, has an inter-state border with Nagaland, Mizoram and Assam, besides sharing around 400 km of unfenced international border with Myanmar. The Manipur government on Saturday, considering the state’s volatile situation, extended the ban on mobile Internet service for another five days till November 23.
Mobile Internet was first banned in Manipur over 200 days ago after the ethnic violence between non-tribals Meitei and tribal Kuki-Zo communities broke out in the northeastern state on May 3.