What happens when an unknown aircraft enters Singapore airspace?

Victor Loh
18 May 2016

In 2008, an unknown aircraft intruded into Singapore airspace, triggering a shutdown of Singapore's commercial air traffic for 50 minutes, and the activation of two air force F16D fighters to intercept it.

The 2008 episode was a testament to the high state of readiness by the Republic of Singapore Airforce (RSAF) - and it is a scenario that will be played out to the public this weekend (May 21 and 22) at Paya Lebar Air Base.

So what exactly happens when an unknown aircraft enters Singapore airspace?

From the scrambling of fighter jets, monitoring and interrogation by air traffic controllers, to ground-based air defence (GBAD), the public can witness the action at the RSAF Open House (ROH 2016).

After a five-year hiatus, ROH 2016 will also return with a static display of over 20 aircraft and weapon systems, showcasing ROH 2016's theme of "defending our skies".

Colonel (COL) Randy Ong, Deputy Chairman of the ROH 2016 explained that the introduction of new initiatives this year will ensure better experiences for visitors.

"For example, we have enhanced the simulator rides where [the public] don't have to queue up and wait for their turn. We are issuing tickets so that they can move around and enjoy the exhibits while waiting for their turn," said COL Ong, who is also the Commander of Paya Lebar Air Base.

"We also looked to ease the congestion that we do expect over at Airport Road. When the vehicles come in, there is a more seamless and enjoyable journey."

"We always take pride in bringing the public into the air base because operations all start from the air base. To bring the public in, they are able to see how the RSAF operates.

"More importantly, it's [to allow the public] to understand how the people behind the scenes work together as one single team to ensure mission success for the RSAF."

Get your shades and sunscreen ready this weekend. Here are five things not to miss at ROH 2016:

1) Action in the sky

Watch as a pulsating scenario is played out before your eyes from the grandstand metres away from the latest RSAF fighter jets - complete with pyrotechnics, visuals, and sound effects.

Audiences will witness two pairs of F-16C and F-15SG fighter jets being scrambled to intercept an unknown aircraft, while Apache attack helicopters provide air-land support.

GBAD systems will also feature in the display, while Army troops will make an appearance from a Chinook helicopter underslung with a Mark II Light Strike Vehicle.

Make sure your cameras are ready as the SAF Red Lions parachute down - the only chance this year as they will not be performing during this year's National Day Parade.

Showtimes for the 30-min RSAF operational capabilities demonstration are at 10.30am and 2.30pm on Saturday (May 21), and 11.30am and 4.30pm on Sunday (May 23).

2) Know your RSAF

Did you know that the RSAF reduces its flying in Singapore during examination periods - for our students to have a peace of mind while studying?

Learn this and more, such as the RSAF's history and transformation, operations, and its people in the RSAF exhibition.

There are also simulators for visitors to try their hand at flying the F-16 jet and UAVs.

3) Take a wefie

Ever wondered how missiles and bombs are loaded onto a fighter jet? At the static display area, airmen will do a live demonstration of the loading process with precision and speed.

You can also take your most expensive selfie / wefie in the cockpit of a million-dollar fighter aircraft.

20 types of advanced aircraft and weapon systems will be on display, such as the F-15Sg, F-16D+, an F-16C with the RSAF Black Knights paint scheme, UAVs, Helicopters, and GBAD weaponry.

4) Carnival and shows

Children will be kept busy at the carnival zone with console games and aircraft model prizes.

The SAF Military Working Dog Unit will also showcase its security and enforcement operations at the K9 demonstration area.

5) Soar into the clouds

Get on cloud nine with four different aircraft such as the RSAF's C-130 plane, Fokker-50 aircraft, Ch-47 Chinook helicopter, or the Singapore Youth Flying Club's DA-40 trainer aircraft.

Only winners of the RSAF e-ballot and contest winners will be allowed for a joyride if they meet the eligibility criteria.

ROH 2016 details

ROH 2016 is open to the public from 9am to 6pm over the weekend (May 21 and 22), and admission is free.

There are free shuttle buses to Paya Lebar Air Base from Eunos bus interchange and Kovan hub, starting at 8.30am to 5.30pm at 10-min intervals. Alternatively, the public can take SBS bus service 90.

There are no public parking spaces, and only LTA-registered taxis from Comfort, CityCab, SMRT, Trans-Cab, Premier, and Prime, are allowed into Airport road after KPE exit and Kim Chuan road.


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