Friday 20 September 2013

RSAF's F-15SG declared fully operational on 18 September 2013

By Jermyn Chow, The Straits Times, 19 Sep 2013

SINGAPORE's air defence shield has been strengthened with the Republic's most modern fighter jets becoming combat-ready.

The Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) 24 F-15SG fighter jets went operational yesterday, after the first aircraft were delivered and staff started training in 2009.

Men and machines were put through a series of tests and training exercises, among other things, to certify that the F-15s' weapons systems and flight performance fully meet the RSAF's requirements.

Attaining "full operational capability" means they can be deployed in any combat mission.

F-15s are considered to be among the top fighter planes in the world, having racked up a combat record of 104 victories and zero losses in 30 years of air battles worldwide.

They are part of the RSAF's arsenal to pre-empt air threats and gun down hostile targets.

Other weapons include the G550 early warning surveillance jets and the Spyder air defence system, all of which are already combat-ready.

The Aster-30 surface-to-air missile system will soon be added to the RSAF range of sensors and shooters.

The F-15SGs' battle-ready status comes at a time when the RSAF is in the final stages of deciding if it will buy the next-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

At a ceremony in Paya Lebar Airbase, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said yesterday that the RSAF's ongoing modernisation drive is not without its challenges.

"Each time we changed and added new capability was a test for the RSAF - there was no certainty of success and no lack of problems to operationalise new assets. But I am glad that the RSAF has succeeded each time, and with each success, given us the confidence to plan and go even higher."

He also paid tribute to the scientists and engineers at the Defence Science and Technology Agency and ST Aerospace who "worked hand in hand" to customise the F-15s' suite of radars and weapons.

The F-15s are able to fly farther and carry more bombs than the other existing RSAF fighters like the F-5 and F-16.

For example, the twin-engine F-15SG can stay in the air for 2.5 hours, more than twice the amount of time than the F-16.

The F-15SGs also have an advanced radar system that has never been sold outside the United States before.

Giving the F-15s the edge over other fighter aircraft is the communications system with the "see first, shoot first" capability, which allows the pilots and weapons systems officers on board to assess a combat situation on screen at the same time.

Major Nick Wong, commanding officer of 149 Squadron - which operates the F-15s - said fielding the F-15s in an air battle will be a "game-changer", boosting the RSAF's air power.

Brigadier-General Lim Tuang Liang, commander of the RSAF's air combat command, said: "The F-16s can be freed up to do other roles and carry other types of bombs to allow us to dominate the air arena... to strike more targets a lot faster."

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