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Our Air Force Story
Our Air Force Story
Our Air Force Story
Our Air Force Story
Our Air Force Story
Our Air Force Story

January 2000


The RSAF began promoting its vision of "World Class People, First Class Air Force" in 2000 to signal its readiness to benchmark itself against the world's best Air Forces, in spite of its relative youth and small size.


“The RSAF has overcome many limitations to become a first-class Air Force today. These achievements are possible because of its formidable combination of committed people and advanced technology.”

Dr Tony Tan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, 1998

January 2000


The Flying Training School’s Air Grading Centre moved its operations from Seletar to Tamworth, Australia, in 2000. Training was conducted by RSAF instructors while British Aerospace Flight Training provided and maintained the training facilities and four CT4B trainers.


The first batch of students who arrived at Tamworth in January 2000.

“Besides the ability to operate with less constraints in airspace, there will be greater continuity for the trainee pilots in their flying training, since weather is not a major factor in Perth. Operating side by side with their Australian counterpart, our Flying Training School would be able to better gauge the way we train our pilots.”

MG Raymund Ng, Chief of Air Force, 2000 during his send-off speech to the Flying Training School detachment

February 2000


The profi­le of the RSAF as a globally recognised Air Force was reinforced in February 2000, when the RSAF became the ­first non-NATO country to join the NATO Flying Training in Canada programme. This programme for cooperative military flight training provided a viable and cost-effective way to train RSAF pilots while exposing 


Chief of Air Force MG Raymund Ng (right) with LG David Kinsman, the Canadian Forces' Chief of the Air Staff, at Asian Aerospace 2000.

April 2000


The RSAF took part for the first time in ODAX, a French-led multilateral exercise involving NATO countries, which took place at Colmar Air Base in the north-east region of France from 25 April to 12 May 2000. Six A-4SU Super Skyhawks and 65 personnel from the RSAF participated in the exercise.


This exercise saw the participation of advanced fighter aircraft, air-to-air refuelling tankers, Airborne Early Warning aircraft, and air defence missile units

May 2000


The ATCR-33S is a radar that provides medium-range air surveillance. It was declared fully operational at a ceremony held at Tengah Air Base. 


The ATCR-33S radar provides medium-range air surveillance.

November 2000


On 4 November 2000, the RSAF received a request from Singapore Airlines to assist in bringing back three critically injured Singaporeans from Taipei. The RSAF immediately configured its KC-135R into an in-flight intensive care unit to ferry the three Singaporean survivors home in the shortest time possible. A 28-member team, comprising doctors and medical staff from the Singapore General Hospital and the aeromedical evacuation team, flew in with the KC-135R.


Members of the SQ006 Aeromedical Evacuation Team, which included a flight surgeon and a paramedic, checking on the casualties.

“The mission was very challenging as it was our very first aeromedical evacuation mission. Together with the medical team, we were able to reconfigure the aircraft in the shortest time possible and set off for Taipei. Throughout the flight, the temperature and the pressure of the cabin were controlled to accommodate the casualties who were suffering from severe burns.”

LTC Gan Keng Soon, Commanding Officer, 112 Squadron, 2000 who helped reconfigure the aircraft to be ready for launch in two days

January 2001


The RSAF and Singapore Polytechnic (SP) signed an agreement to jointly develop an advanced diploma in aerospace engineering and management. The first of its kind in Singapore, this one-year full-time course gives Warrant Officers and Specialists an avenue to upgrade themselves, and prepares them for higher appointments in the Air Force.


With the agreement, the RSAF demonstrated its commitment to provide higher training for its Warrant Officers and Specialists in aerospace engineering and management.

January 2001


The Air Force School was inaugurated in January 2001 to centralise basic airman training from several vocational schools in one institution. For RSAF airmen, the AFS became a common starting point where the RSAF’s core values were instilled and strengthened, and stood as a bedrock of identity for new generations of professionals preparing to serve in the RSAF.


The Air Force School became a common starting point for all RSAF airmen, regardless of their vocations.


The Air Force School crest.

June 2002


The RSAF participated in Exercise Maple Flag at Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake in Alberta, Canada, from 10 to 22 June 2002. This multilateral air exercise allowed the RSAF to strengthen its operational capabilities by training in a realistic combat environment, and benchmarking itself against the best Air Forces in the world. 


The RSAF deployed about 190 personnel, nine F-16C/D fighter jets, one KC-135R tanker, and a Rapier fire unit for the exercise.

July 2002


The ground-breaking ceremony of Changi Air Base (East), an extension of Changi Air Base, was held on 15 July 2002. The new complex was the first facility to be jointly designed and developed by the RSAF and Defence Science and Technology Agency. Completed two years later, Changi Air Base (East) became the new home of 145 Squadron and its fleet of F-16D Block 52+ aircraft.


Changi Air Base (East) was officially opened on 29 November 2004 as an extension of the existing Changi Air Base. 


Dedicated to fi­ghter aircraft operations, the new complex allowed the RSAF to sustain its increased tempo of training and provided easier access to the South China Sea, the RSAF’s main training area. 


The F-16D Block 52+ was also inaugurated into 145 Squadron, which moved to its new home at Changi Air Base (East).


Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence Teo Chee Hean during the inauguration of Changi Air Base (East).


Changi Air Base (East) became home to 145 Squadron and its advanced fighter jets.

“Changi East, as an enhancement to Changi Air Base, will improve the efficiency and robustness of the RSAF’s overall readiness and operational capability. For example, Changi East will give the RSAF greater flexibility to disperse its assets while at the same time allowing it to better maximise the limited local training airspace.”

Dr Tony Tan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, 2002 who officiated at the ground-breaking ceremony

April 2003


On 9 April 2003, the Peace Vanguard detachment was inaugurated at Silverbell Army Heliport in Marana, Arizona, with the assistance of the Arizona Army National Guard. The detachment gave the RSAF's Apache squadron valuable access to ­ring ranges and training.


The RSAF's Apaches at Silverbell Army Heliport in Marana, Arizona.

October 2003


From 27 October 2003 to 20 December 2008, close to 1,000 SAF personnel were sent to join their counterparts from more than 30 countries to help rebuild Iraq and restore peace and stability there. The RSAF deployed three KC-135R tanker aircraft, which were equipped with multi-point refuelling systems, to aid in refuelling different types of aircraft used by partner forces in Iraq. One C-130 transport aircraft was also deployed for conducting airlifts and medical evacuation missions in the conflict zone


The RSAF’s first KC-135R detachment to Iraq in 2004.

“The RSAF was very well prepared. They came to the theatre ready to go to work. I am very impressed with them and was absolutely amazed with their professionalism, confidence and preparedness. Their attitude was absolutely positive, second to none. I look forward to other opportunities of working with personnel from the RSAF.”

MAJ Robert Brisson, US Air Force, 2004 on the RSAF's performance during the reconstruction effort in Iraq  

March 2004


The Ministry of Defence accepted an offer to take part in the JSF programme, a US-led multinational project to develop an advanced, cost-effective multi-role stealth strike fighter that can perform air defence and ground attack missions with increased precision, enhanced combat survivability, and lower cost of maintenance. The RSAF’s involvement provided an early opportunity to assess the JSF’s ability to meet the RSAF’s long-term operational requirements for a multi-role fi­ghter.

October 2004


The RSAF held its first bilateral exercise with the Indian Air Force from 11 to 27 October 2004 at Gwalior in Western India. Six F-16C/D Fighting Falcons from the RSAF were deployed for Exercise Sindex, which reflected the growing defence ties between Singapore and India.


Exercise Sindex developed the growing defence ties between Singapore and India.

December 2004


On 26 December 2004, a massive underwater earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale struck the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, and triggered several tsunamis that wreaked destruction in several countries around the Indian Ocean.


In response to the widespread devastation, the SAF activated a rescue and relief operation to Medan, Banda Aceh, and Meulaboh in Indonesia, as well as to Phuket in Thailand. The RSAF also flew in supplies and support missions to Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Mauritius. Despite the holiday season, the SAF teams were the first to arrive at the scene.


This large-scale Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operation involved the deployment of 1,500 personnel, eight Chinook and four Super Puma helicopters, six C-130 transport aircraft, and two Fokker 50 utility aircraft. Paya Lebar Air Base was used as a transit point to support the relief operation.


RSAF aircraft were deployed to Indonesia to assist in the first phase of disaster relief operations in the wake of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.  


An RSAF airman helping to evacuate tsunami survivors from the disaster site via the Chinook.


This initial deployment marked the launch of Operation Flying Eagle – the SAF’s largest humanitarian relief support mission at the time.


RSAF personnel loading relief supplies via the Super Puma helicopter.

January 2005


Operating out of 123 Squadron at Sembawang Air Base, the S-70B Seahawk was selected in January 2005 to complement the Formidable-class frigates of the Republic of Singapore Navy. It was chosen for its helicopter-borne anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities. In 2009, the RSAF started training on the Seahawk in a detachment to San Diego.


An S-70B naval helicopter taking off from the helipad of the RSS Stalwart.

April 2005


The Chinook Full Mission Simulator was commissioned at the Helicopter Simulator Centre on 29 April 2005. The simulator uses high-resolution images and can generate up to 500 different scenarios, including attack from ground troops or air defence artillery fire, and winching operations. 


The cockpit of the Chinook Full Mission Simulator.

November 2005


Exercise Forging Sabre was the SAF’s first unilateral exercise in the US. Held in the vast Mojave Desert from 10 to 21 November 2005, the exercise sought to integrate the operations of the SAF’s Apache and Chinook helicopters, F-16 fighter aircraft, UAVs, and Artillery and Commando ground forces. Some of the RSAF’s capabilities, namely precision strike as well as Integrated Knowledge-based Command and Control, were demonstrated, showcasing the RSAF’s ability to effectively deploy the different forces in a network-centric environment.


Exercise Forging Sabre focuses on counter-air and integrated strike operations to destroy hostile air and land forces.


The exercise hones the SAF's integrated strike capabilities in a realistic and challenging environment


Personnel from the RSAF and Army cooperate to orchestrate an integrated strike mission at the Exercise Command Post.

August 2005


On 29 August 2005, the RSAF assisted in the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operation that followed the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the US. More than 1,800 people died in the hurricane and subsequent floods, making it one of the deadliest hurricanes in US history. The RSAF responded by deploying three CH-47 Chinook helicopters and 47 personnel from its Peace Prairie detachment in Texas to assist in the relief operations. A fourth Chinook was deployed three days later for a week-long relief mission in North Carolina. 


RSAF airmen on board the Chinook surveying the flooded areas.

“After playing a critical role in the tsunami relief efforts earlier this year, the Republic of Singapore was one of the first countries that understood the devastation in our nation and immediately reached out to help those left in Katrina’s wake.”

Joe Wilson, US Congressman, 2005 who acknowledged Singapore's assistance during a speech to the House of Representatives


“The American people were deeply grateful for Singapore’s help…RSAF personnel were saving lives in Louisiana and the other Gulf Coast States, and Americans would long remember this.”

Frank Lavin, US Ambassador to Singapore, 2005 on the RSAF's aid in the wake of Hurricane Katrina

Last updated on 23 Feb 2017
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