The Malaysian Defense Ministry has denied allegations that a Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) C-130 aircraft (MEGA 207) had been intercepted by two F-16 jets belonging to the Indonesian Air Force.
Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the incident at a regular route over Indonesia’s Natuna Islands three days ago was instead a “mere visual identification” of the aircraft.
“It must be noted that the MEGA 207 was not intercepted by the TNI-AU. An interception warrants the forcing down of our C-130 which did not occur. It was a mere visual identification of our aircraft,” he said in a statement on Monday.
Previously, he confirmed an incident where a Malaysian aircraft was intercepted by two Indonesian fighter jets while crossing over the Natuna Islands.
"Yes, we have received information that the flight was intercepted by two Indonesian jets. However, we do not have full details of the incident. We are in the process of getting the full report," the minister said said on Sunday.
The C-130 aircraft had left Subang Air Force base at 10:10 a.m. last Saturday for a scheduled training mission with a pre-determined flight plan towards Labuan Air Force base. The visual identification happened at 12:03 p.m. near Natuna Islands in the South China Sea.
But on Monday, Hishammuddin said that the incident would not be taken lightly, and that the RMAF would continue to use the route without any reservations.
“As far as Malaysia is concerned, MEGA 207 conducted the scheduled training mission in accordance with the usual standard operating procedure. I have given full mandate to the RMAF chief, Jen Tan Sri Roslan Saad, to take whatever action needed to exercise our rights on using this route,” he said.
Hishammuddin also said a treaty signed between Malaysia and Indonesia stated that Malaysia had the right of continuous, expeditious and unobstructed overflight through the airspace over territorial waters between east and west Malaysia.
“The treaty clearly states the right of military aircraft to conduct aerial manoeuvers, including tactical exercises, through the airspace, provided no firing of weapons is permitted,” he said.
Hishammuddin said he would bring up the matter with his Indonesian counterpart, Ryamizard Ryacudu, at a meeting in Jakarta next month.
“While we share a close relationship, issues like this must be discussed in the open to ensure mutual understanding at all levels in both countries,” he said. (bbn)
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