The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) had detected and intercepted 16 military aircrafts from China which entered Malaysian airspace on Monday (31 May).
According to NST, General Tan Sri Ackbal Abdul Samad said that the aircrafts were detected from the Air Defence Centre in Sarawak at 11.53 a.m. and they were flying using an in-trail tactical formation at a distance of nautical miles from each other. The aircrafts flew in a long formation with the same pattern and direction, using a single entry and exit point of passage.
“The aircraft had later changed their direction at Beting Patinggi Ali airspace, which is of interest to Malaysia,” he added.
It is said that the planes were flying around 23,000 to 27,000 feet (7 to 8.2km) at a speed of 290 knots (537kph) through the Singapore flight information region (FIR) before entering the Malaysian Maritime Zone and Kota Kinabalu (KK) FIR.
Follow the detection, Labuan airbase was put on alert and the Hawk 208 aircraft from the 6th squadron was launched to intercept the aircrafts.
Ackbar said that several attempts to contact the military aircrafts from China were made at the KK FIR air traffic control, however, the instructions were ignored. When the instructions were ignored, RMAF launched its interceptor aircraft at to conduct visual identification.
“Radar surveillance continued, as well as several attempts to instruct them to contact air traffic control. Interceptor planes were launched at 1.33pm to perform visual identification,” he said, adding that the military planes identified were the Ilyushin Il-76 and Xian Y-20.
“These planes are strategic transport aircraft, and are capable of performing a variety of missions,” he added.
The RMAF said this incident was a serious threat to the country’s sovereignty and flight safety, based on the density of airways in the KK FIR. They have informed the Foreign Ministry of this matter too.
Responding to this matter, the spokesperson from the Chinese Embassy in Malaysia said that this is a routine flight training activity of the Chinese Air Force and it is not targeted at any country.
He added that this is in accordance with the relevant international laws, whereby the Chinese military aircraft enjoy the freedom of overflight in the relevant airspace. During this training, the Chinese military aircraft strictly abide by the relevant provisions of international law and did not enter the airspace of other countries.
“China and Malaysia are friendly neighbors, and China is willing to continue bilateral friendly consultations with Malaysia to jointly maintain regional peace and stability.” he said.
Read the statement from RMAF here: