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Singapore lodges concerns with Malaysia over airspace incursion

A Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon. Singapore scrambled the aircraft type in response to an incursion by a Malaysian helicopter in September 2021. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

Singapore has registered its concerns with Putrajaya over the September 2021 incursion of a Malaysian government helicopter into the republic's airspace.

The incident prompted the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) to scramble an undisclosed number of F-16 aircraft.

“On 11 September 2021 a Royal Malaysian Police helicopter was travelling in a southeasterly direction towards Tanjung Pengelih in southern Johor when it entered Singapore's territorial airspace above the eastern part of Pulau Tekong without approval,” said Singapore's Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen in a written response to a parliamentary question published on 5 October.

Pulau Tekong is an island used exclusively by the Singapore Armed Forces, for military training purposes. It is out of bounds to the public.

“During the helicopter's approach, the RSAF had issued calls to it to keep clear of our airspace, but there was no reply. RSAF F-16 aircraft were scrambled to investigate,” said Ng.

“After determining that our security was not compromised, the F-16 aircraft were stood down,” Ng added.

The Royal Malaysian Police had earlier confirmed via a media release on 11 September that one of its helicopters flew close to the Singapore airspace on the date of the incident.

However, the helicopter was never informed of any airspace violations throughout its mission, the service said.

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