If you were to choose an aircraft to penetrate Singapore's air defence network, a lumbering C-130 Hercules would probably not top that list.
But 42 years ago this month, a C-130 from South Vietnam (serial HCF 460) did just that.
Then Defence Minister Dr Goh Keng Swee told MINDEF and HQ RSAF that this would not happen again. It led to a review of CONOPS for air surveillance and interceptions. The incident also seeded awareness of the need to detect aerial intruders as early as possible to give RSAF the early warning required to scramble fighters.
At the time of the intrusion, the subsonic Hawker Hunter was the main RSAF interceptor. It wasn't till 1979 that the RSAF could fly supersonic. This followed the delivery of the first F-5s acquired under Project Peace O.
Incidentally, the C-130 intrusion took place just two days after the RSAF was formed. From a public relations standpoint, the incident was not good for the RSAF's image. The unfortunate timing is an example of how von Moltke's advice, No plan survives first contact with the enemy, applies to info ops.
Here is Senang Diri's interview with former Vietnam Air Force pilot, Lieutenant Pham Quang Khiem. He described the flight that beat our air defence system. We hope you find the Q&A interesting.