TRI-SERVICE OFFICER CADET COURSE
On 17 September 1990, the 42-week Tri-Service Officer Cadet Course was inaugurated at the Officer Cadet School. It allowed Officer Cadets from the Air Force, Army, and Navy to better understand tri-Service operations and provide more opportunities for interaction. They would train in a common environment for 19 weeks before undergoing further training specific to their respective vocations.
Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew officiating at the ground-breaking ceremony of SAFTI Military Institute in June 1990.
EXERCISE PITCH BLACK
The RSAF took part in Exercise Pitch Black in Darwin, Australia, for the first time in 1990. A biennial air combat exercise, it also involves participants from the Air Forces of Australia, France, Malaysia, New Zealand, Thailand, and the United States as well as from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. It promotes mutual understanding and provides the different Air Forces with opportunities to train in realistic operational scenarios
The RSAF’s and the Royal Air Force's F-5s in flight formation.
RSAF personnel working with fellow airmen on mission planning during Exercise Pitch Black.
CPT Daniel Foo (second from right) during Exercise Pitch Black in 1991
KING OF THE SKIES
In 1990, a new roundel that echoed the RSAF’s unity of purpose was launched to coincide with Singapore’s 25th year of independence. It depicted the majestic head of a lion, Singapore’s national symbol, surrounded by a bold red ring. The lion’s face embodies Singapore’s courage, strength, and resolve against obstacles, while the five segments of its mane represent our national values of democracy, peace, progress, justice, and equality. The red ring denotes the RSAF’s role in upholding Singapore’s sovereignty, peace, and security.
The roundel that the RSAF adopted in 1990.
The RSAF also received its new colours in 1991.
NEW FANGS FOR THE RSAF
The AS-550 Fennec was purchased in 1992 and replaced the AS-350 Écureuil as the RSAF's helicopter trainer. It was operated by 123 and 124 Squadrons until its retirement in 2006.
The Fennec was more capable, easier to maintain, and more cost-effective to operate than the Écureuil.
The Fennec also supported the Army as an observation and light attack helicopter.
THE RSAF's NINE CORE VALUES
In 1993, safety and team excellence were added to the SAF's seven core values, which were introduced in 1987, and they were adopted by the RSAF to institutionalise the Air Force's culture of safety. The RSAF also adopted a zero-accident philosophy.
“Safety is like a religion. It teaches you all the good things and you must have certain beliefs.”
LTC Peh Teng Keng, Commander, Tengah Air Base, 1995 during a presentation on safety management at the RSAF’s first safety conference
UTILITY AND MARITIME PATROL AIRCRAFT
The RSAF acquired the Dutch-made Fokker 50s, which replaced the ageing Skyvans. Four out of the nine were designated as utility transport aircraft, while the remaining five were assigned as maritime patrol aircraft. The aircraft, modified by the RSAF engineers, had significantly greater endurance and carriage capacity than the Skyvans. RSAF engineers were also key in transforming the civilian platform into a highly versatile maritime patrol aircraft. The aircraft are operated by 121 Squadron and are stationed at Changi Air Base (West).
The pilots completed ground school, simulator training, and actual flying training on the Fokker 50.
The pilots completed ground school, simulator training, and actual flying training on the Fokker 50.
The introduction of the Fokker 50 in 1994 furthered the development of the RSAF’s capabilities.
The RSAF's 121 Squadron at Changi Air Base in 1993.
“The acquisition of the Fokker 50...is another milestone in the SAF’s efforts to stay at the cutting edge of technological development so that we can remain operationally capable in a fast-changing environment."
Dr Tony Tan, Minister for Defence, 1993 on the significance of acquiring the Fokker 50
PEACE CARVIN II
In March 1993, the RSAF purchased more F-16 A/Bs to replace its ageing Hawker Hunters. The Peace Carvin II detachment was started in May with the new F-16 A/Bs and about 100 RSAF personnel.
PC II/425 FS personnel, led by LTC Jeff Stambaugh (USAF) & LTC Terence Yong, in front of a leased USAF F-16C Block 42.
“It is now time for a new generation of jet fighters, the F-16 Fighting Falcons, to lead the RSAF into the 1990s, and into the 21st century.”
BG (Ret) Lee Hsien Loong, Minister for Trade and Industry and Second Minister for Defence, 1990
Exercise Wallaby is an annual large-scale Army exercise conducted at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland, Australia. Along with various Army units, RSAF units, including fighter and transport aircraft, also take part in the exercise, where they hone the skills and coordination required to dominate the ground domain of unfamiliar terrain that is much larger than Singapore. The RSAF’s participation in this increasingly complex exercise has expanded over the years since it first took part in 1993.
Exercise Wallaby focuses on enhancing collective situational awareness and integration between the Air Force, Army, and Navy.
This tri-Service exercise hones the operational readiness of SAF personnel.
FLYING TRAINING SCHOOL GOES TO AUSTRALIA
On 22 March 1993, the RSAF signed an agreement with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) to establish the Flying Training School at RAAF Base Pearce in Western Australia. With the relocation of the S-211s, RSAF pilots were trained more effectively in a shorter period due to the availability of a larger airspace, favourable weather conditions, and greater proximity to training areas.
Chief of Defence Force MG Ng Jui Ping and General Peter Gration, Chief of the Australian Defence Force, signing the memorandum of understanding.
The agreement allowed for greater training flexibility, whereby part of the Flying Training School was based at RAAF Base Pearce near Perth.
The Flying Training School was subsequently relocated to RAAF Pearce Base in September 1993.
A publication to commemorate the Flying Training School’s 25th anniversary in 1994.
“The Flying Training School of today is strategically dispersed over three continents, necessitated by the lack of local training airspace. With increasing airspace squeeze and the expanding RSAF orbat, overseas training opportunities are key to the future development of the RSAF."
COL Allan Francis Chua, Commander, Flying Training School, 2000 on the importance of overseas training to the RSAF
UN PEACEKEEPING MISSION IN CAMBODIA
On 20 May 1993, four Super Pumas and 62 personnel were deployed to Cambodia to assist the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) in conducting UN-mandated elections. This was the RSAF's first UN peacekeeping mission, which involved ferrying election officials and ballot boxes to the various polling sites and counting centres, providing transport for medical casualties, conducting aerial policing, and other tasks.
The RSAF's Super Puma helicopters, in UN colours, supporting UNTAC from May to June 1993.
Minister for Defence Dr Yeo Ning Hong joined well-wishers in the send-off for RSAF personnel.
The team returned home on 20 June 1993 after assisting in one of the UN’s most successful peacekeeping missions.
CLEARING THE AIR, THE MISTRAL WAY
In 1993, the RSAF unveiled the Mistral, a heat-seeking surface-to-air missile. Operated by 18 Divisional Air Defence Artillery Battalion, the Mistral was accompanied by the Portable Search and Target Acquisition Radar (PSTAR). Working as an integrated mobile sensor-shooter system, the PSTAR could detect any airborne threat within a specified range and relay positional data to the Mistral operators.
The Mistral in a dismounted configuration.
The PSTAR provides target designation to the Mistral.
THE SEARCHER UAV
In 1994, the Searcher UAV replaced the Scout Remotely Piloted Vehicle (RPV) and the RPV-qualified operators were sent overseas for conversion training. It was first used in an overseas exercise in 1996. The Searcher UAV was operated by 128 Squadron and, later, 119 Squadron
Tactical Air Support Command was a step towards unmanned technology in the RSAF through RPVs.
Tactical Air Support Command consisted of RPV pilots who pioneered unmanned aerial technology in the RSAF.
AIR COMBAT MANOEUVRING RANGE
Manoeuvring Range in Pekan Baru, Indonesia, occupied an airspace of about 20 nautical miles radius. The joint project between the Indonesian Armed Forces and the SAF was the first in the world to incorporate an operational Global Positioning System.
Indonesia's General Try Sutrisno and Chief of Defence Force MG Ng Jui Ping laying the foundation stone of the Air Combat Manoeuvring Range on 17 December 1992. The jointly developed facility, which was completed in 1994, symbolised the mutual trust and confidence between the two countries’ armed forces.
EXERCISE COPE TIGER
In August 1983, the RSAF participated in the first Exercise Air Thai-Sing with the Royal Thai Air Force in Korat, Thailand. Exercise Air Thai-Sing was renamed Exercise Cope Tiger in August 1994 following the participation of the United States Air Force. In this exercise, the US Air Force, the Royal Thai Air Force, and the RSAF conduct mission-oriented combined air combat and ground attack training to familiarise themselves with the local flying conditions as well as one another’s operating procedures and aircraft capabilities. It remains an excellent platform for professional exchange, close cooperation, and mutual understanding between personnel from the three Air Forces.
The inauguration parade of the first Exercise Air Thai-Sing in 1983.
By 2006, the scope of Exercise Cope Tiger had expanded rapidly to include more complex systems and missions.
TRAINING UP OUR GROUND BASED AIR DEFENDERS
The dome-shaped Complete Engagement Simulator was introduced on 15 February 1995. It provided training opportunities and a computerised post-engagement analysis of simulated attack flights in a realistic battlefield environment.
The dome of the Complete Engagement Simulator (left); an operator engaging a simulated target.
SUPER PUMA HELICOPTER SIMULATOR CENTRE (HSC)
The Super Puma HSC was set up in March 1995 at Sembawang Air Base. The simulator cabin was an exact replica of the Super Puma cockpit and could accommodate a pilot, a co-pilot, an instructor, and up to two observers.
EXERCISE GOLDEN SAND
Exercise Golden Sand is held locally between the Air Force, Army, and Navy, and tests the integration and operational readiness of the three Services. Some of the assets to be deployed for the exercise include the RSAF's AH-64D Apache helicopters to provide aerial support, and C-130 aircraft to deliver logistics supplies. In 2014, the exercise conducted a battalion coastal hook in Pulau Sudong and involved a battalion of Operationally Ready National Servicemen for the first time.
Exercise Golden Sand involves support elements from the Air Force, Army, and Navy.
The exercise tests the integration and operational readiness of the three Services.
INAUGURATION OF THE AIR DEFENCE SYSTEMS DIVISION (ADSD)
The ADSD was inaugurated on 1 June 1995. This marked the amalgamation of the Singapore Air Defence Artillery and the Air Force Systems Command into a single organisation that was housed at Paya Lebar Air Base.
The inauguration parade of ADSD in 1995.
Chief of Defence MG Bey Soo Khiang officiating at the inauguration parade of ADSD.
ENHANCED AIR COMBAT MANOEUVRING TRAINING
The RSAF developed the Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation (ACMI) system to help enhance local flying training. Commissioned on 22 June 1995, it was housed at Paya Lebar Air Base and served as a cost-effective and powerful tool to train fighter pilots. The system optimised limited training airspace and allowed pilots to better execute their operations.
The ACMI system was commissioned in June 1995.
Senior Minister of State for Defence Teo Chee Hean unveiling the plaque to mark the commissioning of the ACMI system.
SINGAPORE-US COOPERATION AFLOAT READINESS AND TRAINING (CARAT)
CARAT is an annual maritime drill exercise between the US Navy and the Republic of Singapore Navy that has been held since 1995. The exercise aims to enhance conventional maritime capabilities and maritime air operations, and the professional cooperation between the two elements. It has expanded in scope and complexity since its inception, and features an array of serials spanning all dimensions of maritime warfare, maritime security, force protection, and base defence.
CARAT focuses on sharpening conventional maritime capabilities and maritime air operations.
It enhances the interoperability, professional cooperation, and bilateral relations between the RSAF and the US Navy.
On 30 August 1995, the A-4SU Simulator was developed as a training component of the RSAF's new fleet of A-4SUs. It was located at the Flight Simulator Centre (FSC) in Paya Lebar Air Base.
The simulator was comissioned by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Defence and National Development Matthias Yao on 30 August 1995 at the FSC in Paya Lebar Air Base.
“A lot of emergencies cannot be practiced on real helicopters for safety reasons. Such training is carried out on the simulator, safely and without endangering life. The pilot can train repeatedly until he is proficient at the manoeuvres. Malfunctions in the landing systems and engines can be simulated so that junior pilots and on-line pilots alike will be able to learn to deal with those situations.”
MAJ William Ong, Commanding Officer, Flight Simulator Centre, 1995 on the merits of flight simulator training
NEW AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL TOWER
The new Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower at Sembawang Air Base, which opened on 30 October 1995, was specially designed to meet the RSAF's growing air traffic needs. This was unlike the RSAF's existing ATC towers, which had been handed over from the British and, in the case of Paya Lebar Air Base, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore. At 61m tall, the new ATC tower was the second tallest such tower after the one at Changi Airport.
The 61m-tall ATC tower at Sembawang Air Base.
PEACE PRAIRIE DETACHMENT
The Peace Prairie detachment was inaugurated on 22 May 1996, when an agreement was signed between Singapore and the United States to base the RSAF's CH-47 Chinooks at the Grand Prairie Army Aviation Support Facility in Dallas, Texas. The RSAF aircrew underwent flight training in Alabama while ground crew trained with the Chinook manufacturers in Philadelphia. Upon completion, both crews began advanced training alongside their US counterparts in Dallas.
In 2005, a 47-man team from the Peace Prairie detachment was deployed for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations in New Orleans.
“Due to our lack of training airspace, the Chinooks and their crew will initially be training in the US with the US Army National Guard. From our experience with the F-16s, such an arrangement will shorten the learning curve and enable us to quickly gain operational proficiency.”
Dr Tony Tan, Minister for Defence, 1994 on the mutually beneficial and fast-paced Peace Prairie Detachment
FIRST HEAVY-LIFT HELICOPTER
By the early 1990s, the expansion of the Army’s roles and responsibilities necessitated a better airlift capability. This led to the acquisition of the battle-proven CH-47 Chinook helicopters, which were assigned to 127 Squadron at Sembawang Air Base and had greater range and carriage capacity. The helicopters represent a significant step up for the RSAF’s Search and Rescue (SAR) and overall defence capabilities.
The Chinook is operated by 127 Squadron, which was inaugurated by Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence Teo Chee Hean.
The rotary-winged Chinook helicopter is used for troop lift and mission support for the SAF.
“To maintain our reputation worldwide as a first-class Air Force, we must upgrade our SAR capabilities. That is very important. The Chinooks will give us additional capability for SAR purposes. It will extend the range that our current Super Pumas can cover, and increase the load that the helicopters will be able to carry.”
Dr Yeo Ning Hong, Minister for Defence, 1994 on the benefits of having the Chinooks in the RSAF’s rotary wing
NOD OF RECOGNITION FROM ISO
The vision of creating a ‘Quality Air Force’ necessitated the benchmarking of the RSAF’s standards against those of an established and accepted system. Doing so would help identity areas for improvement and facilities the honing of quality processes, doctrines, and standards. The RSAF's Flying Training Organisation, which oversaw the selection and training of RSAF pilots, became the first flying training school in the world to obtain the International Organisation for Standardisation's approval in June 1996.
A celebration of the ISO 9002 recertification of ALO.
THE G-FLIGHT ENVIRONMENT TRAINER (G-FET)
The G-FET is an advanced pilot training facility that is designed to build up a pilot’s tolerance for the pressure of g-force while flying, and allows realistic training to be carried out without compromising safety. Commissioned in November 1996, it also boosts the overall capability of the RSAF’s Aeromedical Centre as a focal point for aeromedical consultation, training, and research.
In the 1990s, the G-FET was considered the world's most advanced pilot-training facility.
“To be useful, RSAF training has to be realistic without compromising safety standards. With the new facility, risk is minimised, while the training provided is realistic.”
Dr Tony Tan, Minister for Defence, 1996 on how the G-FET will enhance the RSAF’s quality of training
The Combat-Technical scheme was unveiled in January 1997 as part of a larger development plan for Warrant Officers and Specialists in the SAF. Under the scheme, combatants were cross-trained and deployed in both their combat and related technical vocations for greater job and upgrading opportunities.
Combat Technicians are responsible for the maintenance and servicing of the sophisticated equipment used by Air Defence Systems Division.
Combat Technicians are responsible for the maintenance and servicing of the sophisticated equipment used by Air Defence Systems Division.
UNDERGRADUATE PILOT TRAINING
On 2 May 1997, the RSAF saw its first batch of pilots graduate from the US Air Force's Undergraduate Pilot Training course at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas. Among the graduates was CPT Lim Tuang Liang, who clinched the award for the best overall performer. The course included ground training as well as basic and advanced flying training on the T-37 and T-38 jet trainers.
CPT Lim Tuang Liang won the award for best overall performer.
OPERATION CRIMSON ANGEL
When hostilities broke out between rival political factions in Phnom Penh, Singaporeans stranded in Cambodia requested for assistance from home. The RSAF was immediately mobilised. On 9 July 1997, six flights of C-130s were launched in two waves to ferry Singaporean businessmen and their families from Pochentong International Airport in Phnom Penh. Armed troops were also sent to secure the area around the airport with live ammunition.
Each flight had one RSAF security team and a medical team on standby for emergencies. The first C-130 took off at 6.40am and landed back at Paya Lebar Air Base around noon with 80 people on board, while the remaining aircraft followed at half-hour intervals and returned from the final flight at 6.54pm. In total, 452 people were safely evacuated through this operation.
More than 400 Singaporeans were evacuated from Pochentong International Airport in Phnom Penh and flown back to Singapore.
TASC AT MURAI CAMP
The new location of the Tactical Air Support Command (TASC) was inaugurated at Murai Camp on 17 September 1997. It provided the UAVs and their crew with their own runway within close proximity to their training airspace.
A Remotely Piloted Vehicle, used for unmanned reconnaissance, being taken to the take-off point.
TANKER OF THE SKIES
The addition of the KC-135R tankers to the arsenal facilitates the RSAF’s deployments abroad and enables flying operations to be sustained for long periods. These tankers provide mission support through the transportation of troops and equipment, and can perform aerial refuelling on all fighter platforms. The KC-135Rs operate out of 112 Squadron at Changi Air Base (West) and replaced the ageing KC-130s.
Acquired in September 1997, the KC-135R provides better support for the RSAF's overseas training and exercises.
Training on the KC-135R began in 1998 under the control of the Peace Guardian detachment at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas.
“We train extensively in countries like Australia, Thailand, and the US. We have to transport crew back and forth and we need support aircraft. The addition of new air-to-air refuelling aircraft will enable the RSAF to take a further step in making sure that we have the type of Air Force that is necessary for Singapore to defend itself.”
Dr Tony Tan, Minister for Defence, 1995 having seen how air-to-air refuelling is conducted during a visit to Tengah Air Base
ACQUISITION OF THE IGLA
In October 1997, the heat-seeking short-range Igla was added to ADSD’s arsenal. The Igla is a shoulder-launched missile system for engaging helicopters and other low-flying aircraft, and is operated by 18 Divisional Air Defence Artillery Battalion.
A short-range air defence system, the Igla can be mounted on the M113 for enhanced mobility, protection, and responsiveness. It can engage air threats in day and night conditions.
UAV TRAINING AGREEMENT WITH SOUTH AFRICA
In November 1997, Singapore and South Africa signed an agreement for military cooperation, followed by a status of forces agreement a year later, which allowed SAF personnel to be deployed to South Africa. This paved the way for the RSAF to deploy its first three-month-long UAV detachment for training at Air Force Base Hoedspruit in October 1998.
The SAF's first UAV training detachment was deployed to South Africa.
SILKAIR MI 185 SEARCH OPERATIONS
At about 8.20pm on 19 December 1997, news broke that a SilkAir Boeing 737-300 carrying 46 Singaporeans had crashed near Palembang in Indonesia. Unfazed by the crisis, the SAF launched a large-scale operation involving hundreds of personnel from all three Services. Two Super Pumas from 126 Squadron were among the RSAF aircraft deployed to Palembang.
What was initially a Search and Rescue mission to locate survivors quickly turned into a Search and Recovery operation that lasted three weeks. Aircraft parts and personal effects were ferried from the crash site to Palembang; the Super Pumas also ferried people and supplies to the crash site. The search was made more difficult by the murky waters of the Musi River, where the flight had crashed. Most of the wreckage was recovered from the river within an area of about 60m by 80m.
An RSAF airman keeping a close eye on the vast Musi River during the Search and Recovery operation.
WEAPON SYSTEMS OFFICER (WSO)
Air Defence Artillery officers, Air Operations and Communications Officers, Navigators, and UAV officers were brought under the WSO combat vocation.
Weapon Systems Officers (Fighter) work very closely with The new vocation excluded all pilots, technical officers and non-uniformed service officers, who would continue to be managed separately, due to the unique selection process and training requirements. The creation of the WSO vocation optimised manpower and opened up the possibility of cross-deploying WSOs into related areas within the vocation.
COL Chong Kim Chye, Commander of ADSD, pinning the WSO badge on MAJ Hoo Cher Mou.
In August 1999, the six pioneer WSOs, who had been selected from existing vocations, were sent for training at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida.
This badge is awarded to Weapon Systems Officers (Fighter) who have completed specialised training to meet the operational demands of being fighter aircrew, excluding piloting of the aircraft. They are expected to have the same level of situational awareness and airmanship as the pilots with whom they work on the fighter jet.
EXERCISE WESTERN ARC
Exercise Western Arc was the RSAF’s first bilateral exercise with the French Air Force (FAF), and was conducted from 23 February to 7 March 1998. The exercise provided dissimilar air combat training that enabled the RSAF to improve its operational preparedness and combat efficiency with the FAF.
RSAF and FAF pilots who participated in the first Exercise Western Arc
The FPS-117 is an advanced, all-weather, three-dimensional long-range radar with high precision detection capabilities. Operated by 201 Squadron, it replaced the ITT RS-321 radar to become the main surveillance system for round-the-clock defence of Singapore’s airspace.
The FPS-117 has high precision detection abilities and a range of up to 250 nautical miles.
ENHANCED TRAINING FOR UAV PILOTS
UAV officers used to be drawn from a range of combat vocations. When the RSAF recognised the importance of nurturing a quality pool of specialised UAV pilots, the UAV Training School (UTS) was formed on 1 July 1998. It conducted all courses related to UAV operations, namely, the UAV Wings Course, Receive-Only Station Commander Course, UAV Instructor Course, and External Pilot Course.
The UTS was set up to formalise the training of new UAV operators and mission commanders in the RSAF, with MAJ Jimmy Ng as its first Commanding Officer.
MORE FALCONS FOR SAFE SKIES
Earlier in 1998, the RSAF’s combat capability received a boost with the establishment of the Peace Carvin III detachment at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico. Together with the Peace Carvin II detachment at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, it played a key role in making the F-16C/Ds operational for the RSAF. The first F-16C/Ds arrived in Singapore on 14 August 1998 and were assigned to 140 Squadron at Tengah Air Base
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Dr Tony Tan (fifth from left) at the inauguration of the Peace Carvin III detachment.
“The RSAF has evaluated a variety of advanced fighers in the same class. After extensive evaluation, it opted for the F-16C/D because it is the most cost-effective aircraft for our defence and security needs. The aircraft meets the RSAF’s requirements in terms of life-cycle costs, logistics supportability, and prospects for upgrade in the long term.”
Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Labour and Second Minister for Defence, 1994 on the strengths of the F-16C/D
On 1 September 1998, 126 Squadron deployed its Super Puma helicopters to Oakey in Queensland, Australia. The detachment allowed the Super Puma operators to take advantage of the larger training airspace there.
Chief of Air Force MG Goh Yong Siang (left) and MG Tim Ford, Commander of the Australian Army's 1st Division, breaking the ground for the training centre at Oakey.
RSAF personnel dismantling the Super Pumas for transportation to Oakey.
ENHANCED TRI-SERVICE MILITARY EDUCATION
On 6 October 1998, the Tri-Service Staff Course was established at the SAF Advanced Schools in SAFTI Military Institute. The course develops officers professionally through exposure to regional and military issues, and serves as a forum for exchanging ideas and sharing experiences.
EXERCISE CAMAR INDOPURA
In 1999, the RSAF participated in the inaugural Exercise Camar Indopura with the Indonesian Air Force. The RSAF deployed a Fokker 50 to conduct joint surveillance over the South China Sea. Medical personnel from both Air Forces also provided medical and dental services on Natuna Island.
The RSAF team that participated in Exercise Camar Indopura.
SUPER SKYHAWKS AND AJT GO TO FRANCE
On 2 March 1999, the RSAF’s A-4SU Super Skyhawks were transported to Cazaux Air Base in France and were used for advanced jet training. This move helped overcome the limitations of local airspace.
The Air Logistics Squadron towed the eight aircraft along the expressways to Jurong Port, where the ship carrier departed for a month-long voyage to France.
This detachment was made possible after Singapore signed the Defence Cooperation and Status of Forces Agreement with France in October 1998.
FIRST ATTACK HELICOPTER
In 1999, the RSAF acquired its first AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters, which were used in the Peace Vanguard detachment in 2002. They arrived in Singapore in June 2006. Inaugurated into 120 Squadron at Sembawang Air Base, these helicopters with advanced avionics and weapon systems boost the SAF’s capability to take on a wider range of missions, especially air-land integrated operations
The AH-64D Apache Longbow is a twin-engine, four-bladed, multi-mission attack helicopter with a tandem-seated crew of two.
The Apache is the first helicopter to be developed specially for both day and night as well as adverse-weather combat missions.
“Proving ourselves during certification training at Fort Hood and playing an instrumental role as part of the Aviation Task Force in the Joint Readiness Training Centre (JRTC), shows that the RSAF’s attack helicopter capability has leap-frogged tremendously in the short span of time since we acquired the lethal AH-64D Apache Longbow.”
LTC Christopher Wong, Pioneer Apache Pilot, 120 Squadron, 2003 on participating in the United States Army’s elite JRTC exercise
“An attack helicopter capability fits in well with the SAF’s development as a modern and balance force.”
Dr Tony Tan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, 2003
FIRST COMBINED FIGHTER WEAPONS INSTRUCTOR COURSE
The first Combined Fighter Weapons Instructor Course to be jointly conducted by the RSAF and Indonesian Air Force began on 4 September 1999. During the three-month course, which equipped the trainees with knowledge of weapon systems, delivery and tactics of successful air attacks.
An RSAF airman with a fellow trainee from the Indonesian Air Force
TAIWAN EARTHQUAKE RELIEF
On 21 September 1999, Taiwan was hit by a massive earthquake that measured 7.2 on the Richter scale. This disaster toppled more than 6,000 buildings, killed over 2,100 people, and injured more than 7,800; about 100,000 more were displaced. The RSAF responded with a C-130 for the disaster relief mission that included a 17-member SAF medical team and members of the Singapore Civil Defence Force, along with relief and medical supplies. This operation lasted until 4 October 1999 and was well appreciated by the Taiwanese, some of whom refused to take money from the SAF team members when they patronised the local shops.
A team of five Medical Officers and 12 Medics was configured for the relief mission and flown to Taiwan via the RSAF’s C-130.
“Amid the savage destruction wrought by nature, many of the team members experienced the gentler side of humanity and came away with a little more humility and a renewed faith in the inherent goodness of man.”
CPT (Dr) Ng Wee Tong, Deputy Team Leader, 1999 on gaining a different perspective after taking part in this SAF mission
UNITED NATIONS MISSION OF SUPPORT IN EAST TIMOR
In August 1999, East Timor fell into chaos as violent clashes broke out between pro-independence and pro-Indonesian supporters. A month later, Australia led the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET) into the warring country to help restore order. INTERFET was replaced by the UN Transitional Administration to East Timor (UNTAET) in December 1999.
In January 2000, the RSAF sent a C-130 detachment, consisting of 24 crew members and three officers, to assist in the transition to UNTAET by providing airlift support between Darwin and East Timor. After East Timor – now Timor-Leste – gained independence, UNTAET was replaced by the UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) in May 2002.
At the UN's request, Singapore increased its peacekeeping efforts in Timor-Leste from a platoon to a company. The RSAF also contributed a 72-man detachment comprising four UH-1H helicopters from 120 Squadron to provide direct aerial support to UNMISET forces in south-western Timor-Leste. The RSAF team remained active in East Timor until the mission concluded in May 2002.
RSAF personnel on board a UH-1H during the peacekeeping mission in Timor-Leste.
“We provided airlift support for passengers as well as cargo…At the same time, we also provided backup aeromedical evacuation standby. SAF training for us has been significant in a way that it has prepared us adequately to assimilate fairly quickly into the flying operations that we are tasked to do.”
MAJ Peter Lim, Commanding Officer, 122 Squadron, 2000 on Singapore’s contribution to this large peacekeeping effort
Last updated on 23 Feb 2017