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Singapore scrambles F-16s to investigate ‘aircraft of interest'

A Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16 aircraft. The service scrambled two airframes on 12 February in response to an aircraft of interest. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) scrambled two of its F-16s on 12 February after the service detected an “aircraft of interest”, the country's Ministry of Defense (MINDEF) has confirmed.

In response to questions from Janes, MINDEF disclosed that two F-16s took off from the Tengah Air Base at about 1449 h local time on 12 February to investigate the aircraft. The day was largely observed as a public holiday in Singapore, as part of the major Chinese New Year break that began on 10 February.

“After ensuring no compromise to Singapore's security and interests, the F-16s were subsequently stood down,” MINDEF said. The ministry did not disclose any other details regarding the incident, including where the “aircraft of interest” was observed to have been coming from.

However, Janes can confirm that the F-16s took off from Tengah Air Base with two live AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) rounds and two live AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missile rounds.

Janes also understands that the “aircraft of interest” approached Singapore's airspace from the north.

This is the second known incident within six months in which the RSAF's F-16s were scrambled in response to potential or actual violations of its airspace during a major public holiday.

On 9 August 2023 two of the aircraft were despatched after a Malaysian-registered helicopter entered Singapore's territorial airspace. In a statement to parliament on 18 September, Singapore's defence minister described the helicopter's entry as having “no malicious intent”. National Day is observed on 9 August and is a public holiday.

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