Sabres pursued unidentified aircraft

After Indonesia declared a policy of ‘confrontation’ against the proposed Federation of Malaysia early in 1963, RAAF Sabre day fighters based at Butterworth became involved in air defence duties. On this day RAAF pilots made two separate sightings of aircraft believed to be Indonesian MiG-19s near the Malayan coast 100 kilometres south of Penang, and one was pursued across the Strait of Malacca towards the Indonesian town of Medan, in Sumatra. Rules of engagement at this stage did not allow intruders to be fired on without orders; however, this changed after further Indonesian aggression and, by October 1964, British and Australian pilots were instructed to ‘engage and destroy’ any Indonesian aircraft found definitely operating within the air space of Malaysia or Singapore. By then, consideration was also being given to retaliating with heavy air attacks against Indonesia’s jet-operable air bases, but this plan (codenamed Althorpe) was never implemented.

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