Fighter pilot Iskandar flies highCPT Muhammad Iskandar is among the 724 SAF personnel to be promoted to the next higher rank this year.
//Story by Koh Eng Beng
//Photos Courtesy of CPT Iskandar & Republic of Singapore Air Force
Being able to watch over Singapore skies as a fighter pilot was a childhood dream come true for Captain (CPT) Muhammad Iskandar Dzulfadhli Bin Abdul Rahman, an F-15SG pilot from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).
Since joining the RSAF in 2008, there were several occasions where he had to scramble his fighter aircraft within minutes, in response to potential air threats.
"The adrenaline (from) being put at the tip of the spear, responding to an actual scenario...knowing that I'm able to apply the years of hard work and training was something that I will always remember," said the 33-year-old who will be promoted to the rank of Major on 1 Jul.
Here are five things you need to know about him:
1. Flying is his childhood dream
Since young, CPT Iskandar was exposed to the world of aviation by his dad who was an aircraft engineer with Singapore Airlines. As a kid, he would often be at Changi Airport, watching the planes while waiting for his dad to knock-off from work.
In secondary school, CPT Iskandar joined the Singapore Youth Flying Club, where he learnt to build model planes. When he was in junior college, he progressed to actual flying training.
"That's where I first really experienced flying. Some of the instructors were former Air Force pilots and they were an inspiration to me, so I decided to pursue a career in the Air Force," said CPT Iskandar.
2. He's great at flying
From 2015 to 2019, CPT Iskandar was away in Canada and the United Kingdom for his university studies. Despite not having flown much for over those four years, he showed that he still had the moves – he won the Most Outstanding Pilot award during his F-15SG fighter pilot conversion course this year.
"Before I left for my studies, I was trained to (fly at) a high level (of proficiency). So by the time I came back four years later, I was able to pick it up quite fast, because of the (strong) fundamentals," said CPT Iskandar, who used to fly the F-5S/T fighter aircraft.
He was part of the 144 Squadron that won the Best Fighter Squadron in the SAF Best Combat Unit competition in 2015
3. He's smart
CPT Iskandar has a Master's degree in Public Policy from the University of Oxford, one of the top universities in the world.
An SAF Academic Scholarship recipient, he also obtained a first class honours degree in Political Science with International Relations from the University of British Columbia, Canada.
4. He's a proven large force mission commander
In 2015, he led over 70 aircraft from the Royal Thai Air Force, the United States Air Force and the RSAF to successfully complete a large force mission in Exercise Cope Tiger.
It involved fighter aircraft, helicopters, transport aircraft, and tanker aircraft. CPT Iskandar had to understand the capabilities of each aircraft type, put together a mission plan, coordinate and lead these warplanes to complete the mission in a safe manner.
5. He's keeping his feet firmly on the ground
He has won several international and local awards in his military career. For example, he was the top graduate twice at the NATO Flying Training Center, Canada, in 2010 and 2011.
And just two weeks ago, he was awarded the Distinguished Graduate for the SAF Tri-Service Warfighter Course. This is a course that develops mid-level officers for joint operations between the Army, Navy and Air Force.
But he is keeping his feet firmly on the ground, crediting his success to support from his peers and instructors in the Air Force as well as his family. "It's not a solo effort; I was really fortunate to have strong support, both at work and at home," he said.
CPT Iskandar will be taking on a staff appointment in the Air Operations Department in RSAF. On top of his flying duties, he will be working on strategic policies and doctrines related to fighter aircraft operations.
"I'm really living my dream of being a fighter pilot. And in the RSAF, any position that you hold, in any unit, there is a purpose and a mission to it. I don't consciously chase for certain positions or rank, I just do my best on the task at hand."