A Singapore-based engineering company today said the plane thought to be equipped with intelligence gathering technology that had landed at a Singapore army base on Monday was a Boeing 737 used for a commercial product demonstration.
ST Engineering said the aircraft had operated out of ST Engineering Aerospace facilities in Paya Lebar, and that the demonstration was carried out solely within Singapore airspace and territorial waters, Bernama reported.
“The demonstration for ST Engineering Aerospace by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has been completed and the plane is preparing to depart Singapore,” it qouted an ST spokesman as saying.
MalaysiaNow earlier quoted a defence journal as well as a flight tracking site as showing that the Boeing 737-400 aircraft owned by Israel Aerospace Industries-Elta (IAI-Elta), a defence contractor for Tel Aviv, had hovered over Singapore airspace for about four hours on May 24 before landing at the Paya Lebar airport, a former US army base.
A check on air traffic website Flightradar24 showed that the aircraft with the registration number 4X-AOO was still in Israeli airspace on May 18.
A day later, the plane flew over much of the Klang Valley at an altitude of about 29,000 feet – way above the 15,000-foot control of airspace by Malaysian authorities – before heading to Singapore.
Defence news journal Defence Security Asia had speculated that the plane could be carrying sensitive radar and reconnaissance equipment and testing a “new system”.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia said earlier today that it was in discussion with the transport ministry and reviewing all technical data on the matter.
The report of the plane’s presence in the region had created anxiety in Malaysia, where anti-Israeli sentiments have been running high in the wake of renewed violence in the occupied territories.
Malaysia is a strong advocate of the Palestinian cause, and unlike its neighbour Singapore, has no diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.