RSAF F-16 jets scrambled on Aug. 9: M'sia helicopter entered S'pore airspace while taking photos of oil rig

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A Malaysia-registered civilian helicopter entered Singapore's territorial airspace without prior notification on Aug. 9, 2023, causing the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) to scramble two of its F-16 fighter jets.

In response to a parliamentary question about the incident, the Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen said on Sep. 18, 2023, that there was no malicious intent arising from the incident, based on his assessment.

No malicious intent

The defence minister gave more details about the incident in his written reply to Joan Pereira, the People's Action Party Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar Group Representation Constituency.

Pereira filed a parliamentary question to ask Ng whether the safety of any aircraft has been compromised at any point due to the Aug. 9 incident, and what measures will be implemented to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

Ng stated in his Sep. 18 reply: "Our assessment is that there was no malicious intent arising from this incident."

"The helicopter had been contracted to take photographs of a Malaysian-registered oil rig that was being transported from Pasir Gudang to Miri, Sarawak when it mistakenly entered Singapore’s airspace without authorisation."

Helicopter entered Singapore's airspace at 12:37pm unannounced

Ng stated that there was no imminent impact on the safety of civilian air traffic during the time that the Malaysia-registered helicopter was in the Changi Control Zone.

The helicopter was flying from Senai Airport in Johor, Malaysia and headed towards Pengerang when it transited Changi Control Zone and subsequently entered Singapore territorial airspace at 12:37pm on Aug. 9.

It did not notify the relevant authorities of its entry and the Singapore Air Traffic Control did not receive any flight plan.

Helicopter exited Singapore's airspace at 2:05pm

As a result, two RSAF F-16 fighters had to be scrambled, which is consistent with the standard operating procedures whenever unidentified aircraft that may pose potent...

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