Malaysia scrambles Hawk 208 aircraft to confront PLAAF squadron over South China Sea

by Ridzwan Rahmat

A file image depicting a Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Hawk 208 in the foreground with a Hawk 108 in the background. The RMAF scrambled its Hawk 208s on 31 May in response to what it considers to be an incursion of Malaysian airspace by 16 PLAAF aircraft. (BAE Systems)

A file image depicting a Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Hawk 208 in the foreground with a Hawk 108 in the background. The RMAF scrambled its Hawk 208s on 31 May in response to what it considers to be an incursion of Malaysian airspace by 16 PLAAF aircraft. (BAE Systems)

The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) has scrambled an unspecified number of Hawk 208 light-attack/lead-in trainer aircraft to confront a squadron of 16 People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) aircraft over the South China Sea.

The encounter took place within the Kota Kinabalu flight information region (FIR) at about 1.30 pm local time on 31 May, the RMAF said in a media statement the next day.

“The PLAAF aircraft were first detected by the RMAF's air defence radar at the air defence centre in Sarawak at 11.53 am,” said the service, adding that the Chinese aircraft were flying within Malaysia's maritime zone.

The aircraft were flying in an ‘in-trail' tactical formation with a distance of about 60 n miles between them, and abruptly changed direction towards Malaysia while flying over Luconia Shoals, which Putrajaya refers to as Beting Patinggi Ali.

The shoals are administered by the Malaysian government, with the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) regularly deploying assets to the area. They are also claimed by Beijing as part of its maritime territory.

According to the RMAF, the PLAAF squadron was detected at an altitude of between 23,000 and 27,000 feet, and was flying at a speed of about 290 kt through the Singapore FIR.

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The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) has scrambled an unspecified number of Hawk 208 light-attack/le...

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