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SAF deploys helicopters, soldiers at Star Vista mall in night-time counter-terrorism exercise

SINGAPORE — Late on Monday (Feb 7) night, soldiers rappelled from a helicopter hovering above the roof of The Star Vista mall in Buona Vista.

An H225M Medium Lift Helicopter is seen flying off The Star Vista mall during a military exercise conducted by the Singapore Armed Forces on Feb 7, 2022.

An H225M Medium Lift Helicopter is seen flying off The Star Vista mall during a military exercise conducted by the Singapore Armed Forces on Feb 7, 2022.

SINGAPORE — Late on Monday (Feb 7) night, soldiers rappelled from a helicopter hovering above the roof of The Star Vista mall in Buona Vista.

Armed troops, with what looked like night-vision goggles attached to their helmets, stormed the 15-storey building.

The military operation was part of a counter-terrorism exercise conducted by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) throughout Monday night to test its operational readiness in a "realistic urban setting", the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said.

Soldiers from the Singapore Armed Forces' Special Operations Task Force preparing to "storm the room" during a counter-terrorism exercise at The Star Vista.

In a statement early on Tuesday, Mindef said that the exercise aimed to strengthen SAF's response to a spectrum of threats.

"The exercise scenario required the deployed forces to respond to a simulated hostage situation and swiftly neutralise threats within an urban setting," it added.

Reporters were not allowed to view the exercise inside the mall.

The exercise was led by SAF’s Special Operations Task Force, which was set up in 2009 and brings together elite units such as the commandos and naval diving unit to combat terrorist threats.

The Republic of Singapore Air Force’s H225M Medium Lift helicopters were also deployed.

An H255M Medium Lift helicopter deployed during a counter-terrorism military exercise.

Ahead of Monday night, aerial activities such as kite- and drone-flying were banned to ensure the safety of the public and the low-flying aircraft in the area.

Besides The Star Vista, other areas where such activities were restricted included Rochester Park, Ghim Moh Valley, Ghim Moh Edge, Dover Ville, parts of Dover Heights and Buona Vista MRT Station.

In August last year, SAF held an urban counter-terrorism exercise involving Super Puma helicopters at the F1 Pit Building at Marina Bay, where soldiers had to respond to a simulated hostage situation in the building. 

In its statement, Mindef said that Monday night's exercise was a success, adding that SAF "continues to train and conduct exercises regularly, even amid the Covid-19 situation, to ensure that it remains operationally ready to safeguard Singapore’s sovereignty and security".

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Mindef terrorism Singapore Armed Forces SAF military exercise Star Vista

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