The Indian Air Force (IAF) scrambled its Rafale fighter aircraft after a purported unidentified flying object was sighted (Rep Photo)
Imphal: The Indian Air Force (IAF) scrambled its Rafale fighter aircraft after a purported unidentified flying object was sighted over Imphal airport from 2.30pm to 4.05pm on Sunday. The airport was shut and a few commercial flights were affected yesterday.
"Soon after information about the UFO near the Imphal airport was received, a Rafale fighter aircraft from a nearby airbase was scrambled to go and search for the UFO," defence sources told ANI.
"The aircraft equipped with advanced sensors carried out low-level flying over the suspected area to look for the UFO but it did not find anything there," they said.
The first aircraft returned and then one more Rafale fighter was sent for the search but the UFO was not seen around the area.
"The agencies concerned are trying to find out the details of the UFO as there are videos of the UFO over the Imphal airport," they said.
Later, flight operations at Imphal’s Bir Tikendrajit airport resumed at 5.50pm after getting clearance from the IAF. The Shillong-headquartered Eastern Command of the Indian Air Force stated that it had activated its Air Defence response mechanism without giving any specific details of the steps taken by it.
Until 90 minutes before the alert was lifted at 5.35pm, the “white flying object” was visible from the air traffic control room, an Airports Authority of India (AAI) official said.
Eastern Command, in a post on 'X' (formerly Twitter), said, "IAF activated its Air Defence response mechanism based on visual inputs from Imphal airport. The small object was not seen thereafter."
Flight Operations Affected
IndiGo’s Imphal-Agartala flight, an Imphal-Kolkata Air India plane and an Imphal-Guwahati Air India plane were ready for departure around 3pm, but weren’t cleared for take off because of the commotion. The flights left for their destinations after operations resumed.
An IndiGo Airbus 320 coming from Kolkata to Imphal with 173 passengers hovered over Imphal for some time before it was diverted to Guwahati. Another Airbus 320 of the airline with 183 passengers on board from Delhi was diverted to Kolkata. Airport officials wouldn’t say if the flying object appeared on the radar. “We haven’t been able to identify it yet. Let’s wait and see if it shows up again on Monday,” an AAI official said.