SAF assisting police to arrest those behind drone disruptions

A sign at Changi Beach warning against the flying of drones and other activities that would compromise safety at the nearby Changi Airport.

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has been providing assistance over the recent drone disruptions at Changi Airport and is working closely with the police to arrest the errant operators, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

Noting that there is a whole-of-government effort to deal with the issue, Dr Ng said he was glad the local drone community recognises that the errant operators must be called to task.

"Nothing untoward has happened yet, and you really don't want to wait for something catastrophic before you act. So we are working closely with the police, and when we apprehend these errant operators, I think that a strong signal must be sent that this can have very bad consequences, if you engage in these activities," he said in his annual interview last Friday ahead of SAF Day today.

Dr Ng was asked about how the SAF is stepping up its effort to counter drones in the light of recent incidents. On June 24, a combination of unauthorised drone activities and bad weather delayed some 15 flight departures and three arrivals, while another seven flights were diverted. Unauthorised drones also delayed 37 flights and affected the operations of one of Changi's two runways for short periods from 11pm on June 18 until next day morning.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) has said that investigations are ongoing.

The SAF has deployed its assets to support the CAAS-led efforts at Changi Airport, and will continue to do so, said Dr Ng. "But that's not a long-term solution. It's not even the most economical solution because, as you can imagine, our SAF systems are built with specifications to deal with much more," he added.

Dr Ng said the CAAS has asked the SAF, particularly the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) and DSO National Laboratories, for professional advice.

"We have told the CAAS what is out there in the market that they can procure if they want it quickly. What kind of defences they need... It's up to CAAS to know what they need," he added. "So CAAS is well aware of what is out there, because we've given the recommendations."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2019, with the headline SAF assisting police to arrest those behind drone disruptions. Subscribe