Clinching the Best Fighter Squadron title a mere three years after being inaugurated is no easy feat, but Republic of Singapore Air Force's 142 Squadron (SQN) has defied the odds at this year's Singapore Armed Forces' Best Unit Competition.
Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Shewan Goh, Commanding Officer of 142 SQN, attributed this year's win to the commitment, trust and readiness of the men of the F-15SG squadron.
"In our squadron, we have a very open communication system which is crucial, and having the ability to openly speak up is beneficial for everyone," said LTC Goh. "If someone makes a mistake, they need to know that they are in an environment that they can trust, so that everyone can benefit from one's mistakes."
LTC Goh also highlighted the tough and safe training that the airmen go through, in order to uphold the high-readiness posture to defend Singapore skies.
"Safety is paramount in everything we do here in 142 SQN. We want to provide realistic training, and we want to create that environment for everyone to push the operational envelope," explained LTC Goh. "However, safety is non-negotiable and not to be compromised."
Within the past year, 142 SQN has responded twice to alleged bomb threats aboard civilian aircraft, and Captain (CPT) Chong Qiu Wei, a Weapons Specialist Officer (Fighter), was involved in both alleged bomb threats.
CPT Chong noted that they were well trained and prepared for such incidents and that "every individual did their job well, and ensured the safe interception of the aircraft on both occasions".
Air Force Engineer Military Expert (ME) 3 Shyam Rohitkumar and Air Force Technician Lance Corporal (LCP) Jovon Lim were involved in the more recent bomb threat that happened on 2 Jun and it was a surreal experience for both of them.
"When news was released to us that there was a bomb threat, everyone immediately executed their roles, and within minutes, the aircraft was airborne," recalled LCP Lim. The Full-time National Serviceman was one of the crew chiefs on duty that day, and he had to conduct pre-flight checks and marshal the aircraft out of the hangar.
ME3 Shyam reiterated that the airmen on the ground are as important as the airmen who are flying the fighter jets. He added: "The ground crew are trained to do what they're supposed to do, and they put in a lot of pride in what they do… They have high discipline and good standards, and that is what makes us efficient in this field."
When asked how he felt after winning the title, ME3 Shyam said: "I'm very proud that we have managed to clinch the Best Fighter Squadron award this year, as we set out on a goal to win this award, and we worked towards that direction. For me and the rest of the aircrew in 142 SQN, it's definitely an achievement to remember."