RSAF's latest helicopters turn fully operational

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11 Apr 2024 | MILESTONES

RSAF's latest helicopters turn fully operational

The H225M medium-lift and CH-47F heavy-lift helicopters will enhance the RSAF's capabilities in operations ranging from search and rescue to disaster relief to troop lift.

// Story by Joshua de Souza / Photos by Kenneth Lin

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) newest "powerlifters" – the H225M and CH-47F – are now fully operational.

Officiating a ceremony on 11 Apr that marks their attainment of Full Operational Capability (FOC) status, Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen noted that these helicopters will provide the SAF "with an enhanced, robust, and flexible lift capability".

"They will strengthen the RSAF's ability to undertake a wide range of operations, including Search and Rescue, aeromedical evacuations, and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR)," he added.

Dr Ng (third from left) unveiling the FOC commemorative plaques during the ceremony at Sembawang Air Base.
Dr Ng (right) presenting the FOC patch to LTC Lim Seng Wee, Commanding Officer of 125 Squadron which operates the H225M.

More than a face lift

The H225M helicopters will replace the RSAF's existing fleet of AS332M Super Pumas, which have served since 1985.

These new medium-lift helicopters have approximately 20 percent longer range, increased manoeuvrability, and high load capacity of up to 4,750kg of underslung cargo or 11 stretchers with medical support.

Meanwhile, the CH-47F helicopter is replacing the CH-47D variant of Chinook helicopters, which has been in service for three decades since 1994.

This new heavy-lift aircraft has a fully integrated, digital cockpit management system that provides advanced autopilot capabilities. It also boasts increased survivability and enhanced connectivity, thanks to advanced avionics, satellite communications systems and self-protection capabilities.


The RSAF received the first of these two helicopters in 2021, with teams of Air Force Engineers (AFEs) ready to receive and assemble the aircraft in Singapore.

Servicemen and women then went through about two years of training, familiarisation, and preparation as part of the FOC journey.

Military Expert (ME) 4 Mandy Ooi Chew Man, for instance, was the Overall-In-Charge (OIC) for the second batch of CH-47Fs that arrived in Singapore.

"I led the team of 20 tradesmen from both engineering and avionics fields to assemble the CH-47F, overseeing the logistical setup and addressing changes that arise in the process," explained the 27-year-old AFE from 806 Squadron (SQN).

(From left) 3SG Yeo, ME4 Ooi and ME5 Kishen were involved in the FOC process – which ranges from aircraft assembly to training to maintenance and deployment.

Safer, more effective maintenance

Along with the H225M, the RSAF acquired the H225M Virtual Maintenance Trainer (VMT).

This allows maintenance crew trainees to train realistically in a safe and controlled environment, said ME5 Kishen Raj S/O Murugaya, the Officer Commanding of 806 SQN.

"Using 3D virtual modelling, as well as real-time simulation, we're able to learn how to perform maintenance tasks in accordance with the manual, without actually going to the aircraft," said the 32-year-old.

"The VMT allows (the trainee) to do it at his own pace."

3SG Yeo Xiong Yu Edthan, an Air Crew Specialist (ACS) from 125 SQN, added: "(The VMT) helps us to (better) visualise what will happen onsite, especially (for scenarios) we have never experienced on board before."

A helping hand

Since the delivery of the H225M and CH-47F in 2021, the helicopters have been deployed respectively in aeromedical evacuation and HADR operations.

Most recently in February, 3SG Yeo served as the winchman in the Rescue 10 team which helped to evacuate a 62-year-old woman who suffered a stroke on a cruise ship.

Despite feeling "adrenaline and anxiety" as it was his first time being activated in a rescue operation, 3SG Yeo was reassured by his winch operator, who told him to "trust in the equipment and the (training) process".

The 22-year-old full-time national serviceman successfully winched down from the H225M helicopter, together with an RSAF medical officer, onto the cruise ship.

When the patient's condition was deemed stable, they winched up to the aircraft for heli-evacuation to Singapore General Hospital.


ME3 Ravi, who has served almost 30 years in RSAF, was deployed in the RSAF's flood relief efforts in Australia in 2022 on board the CH-47F. He was also deployed to Thailand back in 2004 to aid in HADR operations following the Indian Ocean Tsunami.

Back in March 2022, two CH-47Fs were deployed to support the Australian Defence Force's flood relief efforts, transporting personnel and emergency supplies to provide relief to civilians affected by the floods in Queensland and New South Wales.

ME3 Ravi Chandran was among the RSAF personnel deployed then. Speaking on his experience with HADR missions, ME3 Ravi noted the critical role that helicopters perform in quickly delivering aid and in evacuation efforts.

"(In helicopters), we're able to pick up casualties, send in medical supplies and other relief," he said.

"Helicopters are designed (for) and built…to go into places that are inaccessible for planes to fly in."

Check out these two helicopters in action!

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