New helicopters & robust air defence capabilities strengthen RSAF's edgeThe Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF's) operations will be getting a power lift with the addition of two new helicopters.
//Story by Benita Teo
//Photos by Chai Sian Liang & Tedd Jong
The Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF's) operations will be getting a power lift with the addition of two new helicopters. Joining the current fleet are the H225M Medium Lift helicopter and the CH-47F Heavy Lift Helicopter.
They will take on a wide range of wartime and peacetime missions as part of the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF's) Participation Command, from Search and Rescue (SAR) to Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and aeromedical evacuation operations.
Enhancing rescue missions
A modern multi-role helicopter with enhanced lift and reach capabilities, the H225M is set to replace the RSAF's existing fleet of AS332M Super Pumas, which have been in service for almost four decades.
The H225M features an improved engine that allows the aircraft to fly further and longer, giving it a range that is 20 per cent longer than that of its older counterpart. It also has a higher load capacity and can carry more than 20 personnel, 11 stretchers or up to 4,750kg of underslung cargo.
"The new aircraft gives us greater flexibility in our missions with its longer range. It is also more manoeuvrable, while being more stable. So when we have to undertake complex missions, such as SAR or HADR, the operators have more confidence in achieving the mission safely and successfully," said Captain (CPT) Darryl Chong, a 26-year-old helicopter pilot.
Another feature of the H225M heli is its enhanced double hoist system, which has longer cables and a faster motor.
During SAR missions where crew have to winch casualties from ships with tall masts or antennas, the longer cables allow the aircraft to hover from a higher height to avoid these obstacles. The double hoist system means that crew can continue with their mission even if one of the hoists fails.
3rd Warrant Officer (3WO) Dinesh Kumar, a 41-year-old Aircrew Specialist with about 15 SAR missions under his belt, explained how the enhancements contribute to their operations: "When it comes to rescue missions, time is precious and every second counts.
"With the H225M's increased winching speed, we can insert the winchmen faster and extract the casualties sooner. The double hoist also gives us the confidence to complete our missions in the event that one fails."
Doing the heavy lifting
The other aircraft is the CH-47F Heavy Lift Helicopter, which will replace the CH-47D Chinook helicopter that has been in service since 1994.
With a fully integrated, digital cockpit management system, the platform is able to provide pilots with more information of their surrounding and advanced autopilot capabilities. Most recently, the CH-47F helicopters participated in their inaugural Exercise Wallaby in Queensland, Australia, where they carried out deck landing operations with Landing Ship Tank RSS Endeavour.
Training for the crew of both the H225M and CH-47F began last year, ahead of the RSAF taking delivery of both assets in March and May of this year respectively.
Integrating air, land & sea forces
The two new helicopters are part of the RSAF's Participation Command, which was set up in 2008 to strengthen integration of the SAF's air-land-sea operations. It works with the Army and Navy to deliver effective air power in ground and maritime battles.
The command showcased some of its capabilities, including the new H225M helicopter, during a visit by Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How on 15 Dec. As part of the visit, he was invited on board the H225M for a familiarisation flight.
He also tried out the RoBot System (RBS) 70 training simulator. The RBS 70 is a man-portable, short-range anti-aircraft missile and is part of the RSAF's wide array of ground-based air defence weapons.
Mr Heng also viewed an SAR demonstration by the RSAF's RESCUE 10 team. At the sound of a siren, the six-man team scrambled to answer the call of a simulated emergency.
Within minutes, team of a pilot and co-pilot, two aircrew, a medical officer and medic were airborne and headed for their "mission" out at sea.
Time is of the essence: Once the alarm is sounded, the RESCUE 10 team scrambles to the Super Puma to take off for their SAR mission.
Speaking to the media after his visit, Mr Heng noted the importance of an integrated armed force for a country like Singapore: "We have to optimise our resources. Unlike other armed forces, we do not operate on the basis that every service has its own full complement. So we work as a team and we fight as a team in an integrated manner.
"That is the distinguishing feature and strength of our Participation Command. The assets are raised and trained, and then planned and deployed together in support of our land and sea campaigns. This brings out the synergy among our three Services to the maximum effect."