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Wayward plane scrambles Singapore jets--defense ministry

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Wayward plane scrambles Singapore jets--defense ministry
« on: January 23, 2008, 02:36:56 PM »
Agence France-Presse
First Posted 12:55:00 01/23/2008

SINGAPORE -- Singapore scrambled two F-16 fighter jets to intercept a civilian plane that flew into the city-state's airspace without permission, the defense ministry said Wednesday.

The warplanes sprung into action at 6:42 pm (1042 GMT) on Tuesday to intercept the Cessna 208 plane, which was escorted to land at Changi Airport, defense ministry spokesman Colonel Darius Lim said in a statement.

The Straits Times newspaper reported that the incident led authorities to shut down Singapore's commercial airspace for 50 minutes, disrupting flights in and out of Changi.

Lim said the civilian aircraft "was heading towards Singapore airspace without an approved flight plan."

He said the Singapore Police Force was investigating the accident and that the Republic of Singapore Air Force "continues to maintain a high state of readiness."

No other details were given, but the Straits Times said the turboprop engine plane was believed to be flying from the Thai resort island of Koh Samui.

Singapore is a staunch ally of the United States in the global fight against "terrorism" and officials have repeatedly warned that the wealthy island-nation remains a top target by militants.

In August 2003, two air force jets intercepted a Portuguese-registered civilian aircraft that entered into Singapore airspace, the Straits Times said.

The plane's 61-year-old pilot had run into electrical problems and tried to land at an airbase before two A4 Skyhawks intercepted it.

Air forces worldwide have been on alert for unauthorized civilian flights due to fears of a repeat of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United

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