New aerial manoeuvres, formations & RSAF55 Island Flypast for NDP 2023The RSAF is putting on a big show at this year's NDP – performing never-before-seen manoeuvres and debuting its new H225M helicopter. Besides catching the State Flag being flown into the heartlands, those at home can also enjoy a special RSAF55 formation flypast.
//Report by Thrina Tham / Photos by PIONEER Photographers
He is a product manager in the Artificial Intelligence machine learning industry. But on 9 Aug, Major (MAJ) (NS) Yeong Zhen Jie will also be among the first pilots to fly the new H225M helicopter at the National Day Parade (NDP) – as well as the first NSman to do so.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF's) latest Medium Lift Helicopter will be making its NDP debut this year as part of a new Helicopter Formation Flypast.
Audiences will see the CH-47F Heavy Lift Helicopter and two H225M Medium Lift Helicopters flying in formation across the Padang as part of an enhanced aerial display.
To qualify for the part, MAJ (NS) Yeong started training on the new H225M aircraft early this year.
Over a span of four months, he went in and out of different training centres – learning the aircraft specifications from Airbus; heading to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for simulator training; and flying sorties with 125 Squadron to build up his proficiency.
"Naturally, there were personal sacrifices, as I had to juggle between work commitment and family time while undergoing the training. (It) was no easy feat," said the 39-year-old, who flew the Super Puma helicopter for 16 years before leaving the air force in 2018.
"Many times, I had to put in extra hours after training to make sure work still progresses; while my wife took care of family matters.
"So, I'm really grateful to my wife and colleagues for their unwavering support, and also to my squadron mates," added MAJ (NS) Yeong. He is a father to three children, aged 12, five and three.
Despite his heavy commitments, MAJ (NS) Yeong volunteered to take on the role. "It's only right to give back. Despite moving on to a professional career in the AI Machine Learning space, I found a lot of meaning in doing this."
A bigger show for Singapore
The RSAF will be putting a bigger show at NDP this year, which also marks its 55th anniversary or RSAF55.
It will have an enhanced aerial display segment at the Padang, which will feature four flying profiles to thrill audiences. This includes the return of familiar crowd favourites like the State Flag Flypast and bomb burst.
The enhanced Salute to the Nation, for example, will show five-F-16D+ aircraft performing a bomb-burst manoeuvre, followed by three F-15SGs flying through.
Audiences at home can look up to the skies to catch the Fly Our Flag and RSAF55 Island Flypast that will be making their way across the heartlands.
The former will have two routes – the western route goes past areas like Bukit Panjang, Woodlands, Choa Chu Kang, Jurong and West; while the eastern route will head to Yishun, Toa Payoh, Sengkang, Punggol, Pasir Ris, Tampines and Marine Parade.
The RSAF55 Island Flypast will fly above five areas: Jurong West, Woodlands, Toa Payoh, Tampines and Bedok.
A total of 21 aircraft will be involved in the celebrations, the highest number since RSAF50 in 2018.
"We decided to put up a bigger show, to have more people participating in celebrating our milestone RSAF55. The intent is also to showcase some of our newest capability and show Singaporeans how much we've transformed over the years," said Colonel (COL) Jonavan Ang, 45, Chairman of the Air Participation Committee.
New moves and formations
A highlight of this year's enhanced aerial display will be the Dual High G Turn – where two F-15SG fighter aircraft will execute a synchronised sharp turn, making an almost 360-loop around the Padang while flying side by side.
The turn has aircrew withstanding a gravitational force of up to nine times the force of gravity, and is typically done by just one aircraft.
"Our intention was to plan a manoeuvre unique to the Padang, because the spectator stands has four sides to it. So, we try to get as many people to see the aircraft as possible," said COL Ang, on the move.
It will be followed by the new "Cross Turn + Vertical Climb" manoeuvre, which will feature two F-16D+ fighter aircraft crossing each other's flight path, while an F-15SG flies from the opposite direction towards the intersection before pulling up to the skies.
Another NDP first will be the Fixed Wing Formation – in which an A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) flies with four F-16D+ fighter jets, two at each wing.
"With a large aircraft and in Singapore's tight airspace, it's difficult to maintain (flying) within this airspace and at high speeds (together) with the fighter aircraft," shared MRTT pilot Lieutenant (LTA) Hanson Lim.
"Our turn radius will be much bigger. And in a bigger aircraft, we're not as manoeuvrable as the fighter aircraft. So, every turn has to be well calculated to ensure that we're able to fly within our airspace and meet our target," added the 25-year-old.
The MRTT will also be involved in the RSAF55 Island Flypast across the heartlands. It will lead the formation flypast, followed by six F-16D+ in a delta formation and three F-15SGs in a Vic formation.
LTA Lim added that he was excited to take part in his first NDP – and so was his family, who have been trying to spot his aircraft jetting over the heartlands during the weekend's shows.
He said: "This opportunity has helped me learn a lot and I'm very glad that Singaporeans will be able to see us in the air."