Singapore military aircraft that flew over Johor were taking part in exercise: Mindef

The Johor Causeway. Singapore military aircraft that flew over southern Johor earlier this month were taking part in Exercise Bersama Gold. - ST FILE

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): Singapore military aircraft that flew over southern Johor earlier this month were taking part in a multilateral exercise and had obtained the requisite approvals to enter Malaysian territorial airspace, said the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) on Tuesday (Oct 19).

This was during Exercise Bersama Gold, a Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) exercise held from Oct 4 to 18, it said.

The FPDA, established in 1971, is a pact comprising Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Britain.

Mindef was responding to media queries about an article by Malaysian news outlet Malay Mail earlier on Tuesday (Oct 19).

It reported that Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim had asked for the Malaysian government to investigate supposed incursions by Singapore aircraft in Malaysian airspace.

He said he had received complaints from members of the public about frequent sightings of Singapore's military planes flying low in the airspace adjacent to Singapore.

The "invasions" of Malaysian airspace seemed to have happened frequently after the federal government raised the issue of reviewing the case of Pulau Batu Puteh, or Pedra Branca, the MP was reported to have said.

Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob had said on Oct 9 that Malaysia will study its options with regard to the International Court of Justice's 2008 decision to award Pedra Branca to Singapore.

Mindef said on Tuesday that the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has been participating in Exercise Bersama Gold.

"The countries' aircraft had obtained the requisite approvals to enter Malaysian and Singapore territorial airspace, including the airspace over Southern Johor," it said.

Mindef added that information on the aircraft activities as part of the exercise was publicly announced by the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia on Sept 9, and by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore Sept 10.

The exercise was hosted by the Malaysian Armed Forces and conducted in the FPDA's traditional exercise area over Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and adjoining waters, said Mindef.

Militaries from all five FPDA member countries took part in the exercise, which involved about 2,600 troops, six maritime helicopters, three maritime patrol aircraft, and 25 fighter aircraft, among other assets.

Air forces from the FPDA countries also exercised with one another in air serials such as air defence exercises, said a Mindef statement on Oct 5.

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