SINGAPORE: With the expansion of Changi Airport and an expected increase in air traffic, steps are being taken to ensure that Singapore's air defence operations remain relevant and current.
At the biennial Exercise Vigilant Shield on Thursday (Mar 14), the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) said that it was reviewing its processes to see if these should be adjusted, due to the expansion of Changi Airport.
"In all these exercises, we will see if there (are) any new developments in the Civil Aviation Authority side, so that our own air defence plans can be adjusted accordingly to facilitate this," said LTC Zanna Lee, chief planner for this year's Exercise Vigilant Shield.
"With the expansion of Changi, we are expecting more traffic, so when we carry out our operations, we must make sure that the other civil airlines' safety are taken into consideration, and we will try as much as possible not to affect the traffic at Changi," she added.
Speaking after the conclusion of the exercise, Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How said that threats have evolved, and stressed that Singapore will always remain a target for terror attacks.
"The methods have evolved so these are the things that worry us, but at the same time, it causes us to be ever vigilant," said Mr Heng.
He added that a whole-of-government approach is necessary to detect potential air threats and and respond swiftly.
As part of Exercise Vigilant Shield, a hijacking scenario was simulated at Changi Air Base.
Two RSAF F-16 C/D fighter aircraft were scrambled to intercept a "suspicious airliner".
The fighter aircraft escorted the airliner to ensure that it landed safely. After the airliner landed, the jets continued to circle around it in the air, should it attempt to take off.
This year's exercise involved participants from the RSAF, Singapore Police Force and Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore.
Coordinated by the Singapore Armed Forces Air Defence Task Force, Exercise Vigilant Shield demonstrates the RSAF's capabilities to respond to potential air threats with a "robust 24/7 networked air defence system", said the Ministry of Defence in a news release.
Since the Sep 11 attacks in 2001, the RSAF has continually reviewed its air defence procedures to ensure that it is able to counter any potential terror attacks.
In 2010, a round-the-clock task force was set up to respond quickly to terror threats.
The Air Defence Task Force, together with the Special Operations Task Force, Island Defence Task Force and Maritime Security Task Force, make up the High Readiness Core that safeguards homeland security, Singapore's skies and waterways.
Editor’s Note: This article and its headline have been edited for clarity.