Archive for November 2014

Air Defence Intercept Procedures Demonstrated by Indonesia and the UK

As if on cue, we have witnessed three recent demonstrations, of how the Royal Malaysian Air Force should have reacted in the early hours of Saturday 8th March when MH370 disappeared.

 Wed 22nd October 2014:  JAKARTA
Two Indonesian fighter jets were scrambled on Wednesday 22nd October to force an Australian twin engine turbo prop Beechcraft King Air 90 aircraft to land at Manado, Sulawesi in Indonesia.
An Indonesian air force spokesman said the King Air was initially spotted over the island of Timor but had no flight clearance or documents filed, so two Russian Sukhoi 27 fighter aircraft were scrambled from Makassar, South Sulawesi, to intercept it.  Internationally known procedures were followed by the fighter pilots to indicate to the civil pilots that they were required to land at Manado.
It was later found that the aircraft was on a delivery flight from Darwin to the Philippines and posed no threat to Indonesian security. 

28th October 2014:   JAKARTA
A civilian aeroplane was intercepted by two Indonesian Air Force fighter jets and forced to land at Supadio Air Force Base in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, on Tuesday 28th October.
The aircraft, registered VH-PFK was flying over Indonesian airspace without a flight plan or clearance.  VH-PFK is an Australian registration mark but it is based in Singapore at Seletar Airport.
The Indonesian Air Force advised that the interception began at 07:56, when the 1st National Air Defence Sector Command (Kosekhanudnas) at Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force Base in East Jakarta detected an aircraft without clearance in the Pontianak area.
Two Russian-made Sukhoi Su-27/30 Flankers, were scrambled from Batam, Riau Islands, “But the chase failed because the targeted plane was already too far away.”
At 1300 (1400 Singapore time), Indonesian military radar detected the unidentified plane re-entering Indonesian airspace, over the South China Sea at an altitude of between 20,000 and 25,000 feet and a speed of between 250 to 350 knots.
The two Sukhoi fighters again took off from Batam and “The plane was intercepted in the southern area of the Natuna Islands.  After visual identification and radio contact was established, the Singaporean pilot was instructed to land at Pontianak and touched down at 13:23.  The pilot was then interrogated by Air Force personnel,” the statement read.
The Beechcraft King Air had departed from Cebu, the Philippines, enroute to Seletar Airport in Singapore, according to the official Air Force website.

29th October 2014: LONDON
Two RAF Typhoon fighter jets scrambled to intercept a Latvian Antonov cargo plane over Kent which had lost contact with civil air traffic controllers and was causing concern to ATC and security officials.  The RAF Typhoons followed well established intercept procedures and signalled the pilot of the Antonov to follow them to Stansted Airport where it landed safely.
An airport spokesman said police officers surrounded the aircraft after it landed at 17:15 in what were described as standard procedure when communication had been lost with an aircraft.
So, now we have had 3 clear demonstrations of the international standard operational system by which any sovereign nation is entitled to defend its airspace.
In fact there have been many more similar intercepts between military aircraft over the last years and it is a very well practiced procedure in European and Asian airspace.
The question remains … how did the Royal Malaysian Air Force air defence system know, with such certainty, that they were tracking a civilian aircraft heading from the Gulf of Thailand over mainland Malaysia, and in fact over Penang, the main RMAF base in the area, and that it was not going to threaten the security of the State of Malaysia in any way?   Why did they not follow the same internationally recognised procedures as did Indonesia and the UK, and send up interceptors to ensure that it was not a threat?
If they were so sure that it was a civilian aircraft which posed no threat, why was this not coordinated with the civil ATC officers in Kuala Lumpur ATC Centre and identified as MH370?
Given the facts as stated by the RMAF that they observed this unidentified aircraft cruising at 35,000 feet, then turning to the left, zooming up to about 45,000 feet and then descending rapidly to 10,000 feet whilst heading on a track that would pass very close to a major air force facility in Penang, it is difficult to understand how they considered this to be a normal civil operation which did not need to be investigated by interceptor aircraft.  At the least, it is hard to understand why the military operator did not discuss and coordinate all this with the civil controller at the time, and so resolve the mystery of MH370 there and then.
Monday, 3 November 2014
Posted by Des Ross

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