China’s Ba Yi, US’ F-35 fighters to thrill at Singapore Airshow
// Report by Thrina Tham
// Photos by Chai Sian Liang, Chua Soon Lye & Kenneth Lin
This will mark their first time flying in Singapore skies.
Those of you who were around the Changi Beach area over the weekend may have heard the roar of jet engines as fighter aircraft flew overhead. You may even have caught a glimpse of the famous August 1st or Ba Yi aerobatics team as they rehearsed their routine ahead of the opening of Singapore Airshow 2020 (SA2020).
The team from China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) is flying in Singapore for the first time. Also making their debut performance in the region are the United States Marine Corps' F-35B Joint Strike Fighters and the US Air Force's F-22 Raptors. SA2020 will be held at Changi Exhibition Centre from 11 to 16 February.
Many are looking forward to seeing the F-35B fighters in the air. These are the same warbirds that Singapore is looking to purchase to replace its F-16s.
Public visitors to SA2020 will be able to see a demonstration of the aircraft's short take-off and vertical landing capability, said Lieutenant Colonel (Lt. Col.) Michael Rountree, Commanding Officer of the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121.
"You will see the aircraft hover at centre stage, point at you and move left and right; front and back.
"You will see a heavy-weight fighter aircraft…not moving in the sky, which is a pretty incredible feat for a modern fighter that can also fly at supersonic speeds," said Lt. Col. Rountree.
The F-22 will perform before the F-35B, in a combined display lasting about 20 minutes.
Lt. Col. Rountree said that it was significant for the US to be able to showcase their fighter jets at SA2020 and demonstrate their abilities. "This will strengthen our relationship here with Singapore and continue our support of the Airshow," he said.
China's Ba Yi aerobatics team is also set to take to the SA2020 stage, with six J10 fighter aircraft flying in close formation for a spectacular 18-minute show.
Singapore and China mark 30 years of diplomatic relations in 2020. Singapore Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen said he had invited the PLAAF Ba Yi aerobatics team to perform at this year's Airshow as a way to mark the anniversary.
Speaking to the media on 7 Feb, Dr Ng said that the PLAAF had taken extra precautions to ensure their delegation met Singapore's stringent health screening standards to be ready for the airshow.
Additionally, the Ba Yi aerobatic team took proactive measures including regular health checks and medical screening while they were residing and training in their military base in Tianjin, China. They will also undertake the necessary measures such as regular temperature and health monitoring during their stay in Singapore.
On having US and China perform at SA2020, Dr Ng said: "It's really a vote of confidence (and) also a measure of how strong our relationship is."
Also joining the line-up will be the Republic of Singapore Air Force's integrated aerial display team comprising an F-15SG fighter jet and two AH-64D Apache attack helicopters.
The USAF's B-52 Stratofortress is also set to return to SA2020 for a flypast on 15 Feb.
Catch the aerial displays at these timings:
11 Feb (Tue): 12.30pm to 1.35pm
12 Feb (Wed): 11.30am to 12.20pm
13 Feb (Thu): 11.30am to 12.05pm
15 Feb (Sat) & 16 Feb (Sun): 11.30am to 12.10pm & 2.20pm to 3.10pm
Get a sneak peek of the exhilarating aerial moves by the US and China aerial teams: