Hear The Jets? NDP Lai Lo: A 101 On The RSAF Aircraft Defending Singapore Skies

·4-min read
You can hear (and sometimes see) the RSAF aircraft doing their NDP rehearsals, but do you know how they protect our Little Red Dot?
You can hear (and sometimes see) the RSAF aircraft doing their NDP rehearsals, but do you know how they protect our Little Red Dot?
You can hear (and sometimes see) the RSAF aircraft doing their NDP rehearsals, but do you know how they protect our Little Red Dot? | Photos: (Clockwise from top) Instagram/@purplelightvisuals, @camerangle, @stanley_chee, and @planes.patches.people

Our Republic of Singapore Air Force (or RSAF) fighter jets, planes, and helicopters are a familiar sight (and sound) when NDP rolls around.

For the first time last year, we got to see them do a flypast across the heartlands on National Day morning. For our fighter jets, the route they took was their longest in National Day history, and spanned 170 nautical miles (or about 315km).

Besides having a sense of pride and reassurance seeing and hearing the RSAF jets during the National Day period, do we really know what these NDP favourites are and what they do to defend our skies on a daily basis?

Fasten your seatbelt - here's a simple initiation into the RSAF’s pride and joy.

F-15SG

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What is it: An advanced version of the US F-15E Strike Eagle. Singapore has 40 of them. The F-15SG multi-role tactical fighter aircraft is one of the most lethal in the world.

What it does: Perform air-to-air and air-to-ground attack missions in all weather conditions.

Wah seh: Can fly at Mach 2.5 speed. Was sent out after detecting a potential air threat in our skies on 13 Feb this year.

F-16C/D/D+ Fighting Falcon

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What is it: In service since 1998, these ageing fighters will soon be replaced by the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. But our F-16 aircraft are continuously upgraded with state-of-the-art armament to combat any threats.

What it does: It is a multi-role tactical fighter with air-to-air and air-to-ground combat capabilities.

Wah seh: Two F-16C/Ds were scrambled to intercept a bomb threat on SQ423 from Mumbai to Singapore in 2019.

Airbus A330 MRTT

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What is it: The A330 Multi-role Tanker Transport (MRTT) is the RSAF’s tanker aircraft capable of refuelling our fighter aircraft in the air.

What it does: Besides air-to-air refuelling capabilities, it plays airlift roles in various missions, carrying cargo or medical equipment for humanitarian and disaster relief missions.

Wah seh: The A330 can refuel our other A330! Besides that, by using a 3D video system, fly-by-wire controls, and electrical actuators, it can refuel aircraft even at night.

C-130 Hercules

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What is it: Singapore has six C-130Hs used in Singapore’s coalition efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to provide aid for our neighbours. We also have C-130Bs that are close to 60 years old (wow!) - these are used for training.

What it does: Used for humanitarian aid and disaster relief, cargo transport, plus search-and-locate missions.

Wah seh: Ang Ee Lin went from being a baker to becoming RSAF's first female C-130 Hercules loadmaster.

Fokker-50 UTA/MPA

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What is it: A maritime patrol aircraft jointly operated by the RSAF and RSN. Equipped with harpoon surface-to-surface missiles, our Fokker-50 planes are part of a combined air patrol (that also includes Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia) over the Malacca straits.

What it does: Protects our seaward defence and sea lines of communications.

Wah seh: Was deployed for the search of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. 😭

AH-64D Apache Longbow

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What is it: The RSAF’s first tandem-seat helicopter (pilot in rear seat, co-pilot in front seat), the Apache Longbow has a Fire Control Radar that can detect moving or stationary targets in the air or on the ground.

What it does: This multi-mission helicopter is used for day or night sorties, even under adverse weather conditions.

Wah seh: The 120 Squadron of the RSAF, that has operated the Apache Longbow in the NDP since 2006, is the first and oldest RSAF operational squadron in service since 1969.

CH-47D/SD Chinook

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What is it: Our Chinooks proudly lift the Singapore flag high during the NDP for the state flag flypast, but have also been used for Singapore’s humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions. It will be progressively replaced by newer CH-47F Chinooks.

What it does: Used in search and rescue operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, aeromedical evacuation, cargo transport, and more.

Wah seh: The 30m by 20m Singapore flag carried by the Chinook during NDP weighs close to 1,250 kg and, when unfurled, is bigger than a tennis court!

AS332M/M1 Super Puma

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What is it: The workhorses of the RSAF have been in service since 1986 for numerous missions, but are being progressively replaced by new H225M medium-lift helicopters.

What it does: Used for search and rescue missions, humanitarian aid and disaster relief, troop lift, cargo transportation, and transporting VIPs.

Wah seh: The Super Puma carried our Singapore flag between 1986 to 2000. It was also the preferred transport aircraft for our Special Operations Task Force (SOTF) troopers.

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