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RSAF fighter jets scramble as Malaysian helicopter enters Singaporean airspace near Changi Airport on national day

On Singapore’s 58th National Day, RSAF F-16 jets intercepted a Malaysian-registered helicopter near Changi Airport. The brief intrusion disrupted airport operations, delaying several flights. The incident came to light through social media platform X and tracking sites



SINGAPORE: On a day earmarked for national celebration, Singaporean defence and aviation authorities had to momentarily shift their focus skywards.

Two Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) F-16 fighter jets were scrambled on Wednesday afternoon following an unscheduled foray by a Malaysia-registered helicopter into Singaporean airspace, just east of the bustling Changi Airport.

According to a joint statement released by the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), the quick interception of the helicopter was initiated at precisely 12.40pm.

“After ensuring that our security was not compromised, the F-16s were subsequently stood down,” the joint statement clarified.

Preliminary evaluations have revealed that the intruding aircraft is a civilian helicopter registered to a foreign entity.

However, the unanticipated aerial activity did bring a ripple of disruption. Changi Airport operations encountered delays between 12.50pm and 1.28pm.

Nine incoming flights were kept waiting, while eleven outbound flights were postponed due to the incident.

Local media began investigating the episode after @alert5, a user on social media platform X, raised an alarm at 1.10pm regarding the F-16s’ reaction to the foreign chopper breaching airspace boundaries near Changi Airport.

The post featured a screengrab from the popular flight tracking site, FlightRadar24, revealing a part of the helicopter’s journey, and tagged its registration as 9M-CGA. Another X user, @RXRoy, also posted related information, specifying that the RSAF jets took off from Tengah Air Base.

Data pulled from FlightRadar24 indicates that the Airbus H125 helicopter had commenced its journey from Johor Bahru Senai International Airport approximately at 12.10pm, local Singapore time.

The helicopter then moved eastwards, soared above Peninsular Malaysia, and swerved southwards near the Lebam River in Malaysia at 12.28pm. Its flight path led it to the waters adjacent to Changi Airport by 12.40pm.

For roughly 20 minutes, the helicopter circled the area, reducing its altitude from a range of 700-1,200 feet to a mere 400 feet. Subsequently, it steered north-east, landing near the Bayu Damai Police Station, as per data from FlightAware.

It was later reported that the helicopter embarked on another flight at 3.08pm, eventually touching down at Senai Airport at 5.13pm.

The incident coincidentally unfolded on Singapore’s National Day as the country marks its 58th year of independence, with grand parades at the Padang.

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