Thursday, 9 August 2018

RSAF50@Marina Barrage: Republic of Singapore Air Force to Celebrate 50th Anniversary with Aerial Displays over National Day weekend on 11 and 12 Aug 2018

Two helicopters to perform for the first time in RSAF's largest aerial show of the year
By Lim Min Zhang, The Straits Times, 8 Aug 2018

This weekend, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) will be showcasing more than 20 aircraft in its biggest aerial display this year. It will also feature two of its helicopters doing aerial manoeuvres together for the first time.

A pair of RSAF AH-64D Apache attack helicopters will perform 10 synchronised manoeuvres at the Marina Barrage on Saturday and Sunday. The RSAF50@Marina Barrage event, organised to commemorate the air force's golden jubilee this year, will feature a total of 29 aircraft - 25 from the RSAF and four from the Singapore Youth Flying Club.

There will also be an unmanned aircraft for the first time - the Heron 1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle - in a pre-show segment.

The public can watch two 30-minute shows each day at 10am and 2.30pm. The aerial display will also be streamed live on the RSAF's Facebook page.

The RSAF did a full rehearsal at a media preview yesterday, witnessed by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen. The full sequence for the show is: A sequential flypast, a helicopter and fighter jet aerial display and a finale bomb burst manoeuvre.

Lieutenant-Colonel Nick Wong, chairman of the flying display committee, said: "This time, we are trying to do something different - new profiles and display segments - and this shows the professionalism and capabilities of the air force as well as the ability to work together as a team."

Nineteen RSAF combat aircraft and four Singapore Youth Flying Club DA40 trainer aircraft will perform the flypast in five formations.

The formations will fly at different altitudes between 500ft (152m) and 2,000ft, about 60 seconds apart.

Captain Ingkiriwang Reeve, one of the performing AH-64D pilots, said having two helicopters perform together is exponentially more difficult than a single one as there are many extra factors to consider. He will have to follow the lead given by the other helicopter for the aerial manoeuvres and adjust according to wind conditions, he said.

"We also have to fly imperfectly to make it look perfect because the people on the ground are looking at it from a different angle," he added.

Two F-16C fighter jets and one F-15SG will also perform 18 aerial manoeuvres, including five new ones that were not performed at the Singapore Airshow in February.

Besides catching the aerial displays, families can also enjoy a picnic at the barrage organised by Families For Life on Saturday. There will be activities such as sand art and paper-plane making. Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee will be at the picnic, which is from 8am to 4pm.

The Chief of Air Force, Major-General Mervyn Tan, who was at the preview, said the RSAF50@Marina Barrage is one of the events designed to thank Singaporeans for their support of the air force over the years.

He said: "We hope that Singaporeans will enjoy the show and continue to give their fullest support to our airmen and women who are committed to defend our home, above all."

Pushing their flying skills to the limit
Pilots and ground crew overcome challenges to dazzle crowd at RSAF's 50th birthday bash
By Lim Min Zhang, The Straits Times, 13 Aug 2018

It may have been over in under 30 minutes, but the slick aerial manoeuvres by the F-15SG and F-16C fighter jets and the Apache attack helicopters over the National Day weekend took months of training and planning to execute.

A team of six fighter pilots and two weapon system officers for the planes and six pilots for the Apaches were involved, along with over 200 Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) personnel that ran ground operations, provided logistics support and managed traffic.

The team was supported by a ground maintenance crew of about 150 at the airbases, who, along with the pilots, worked and trained every week from May this year to put up the successful aerial displays on Aug 11 and 12 in celebration of RSAF's 50th birthday this year.

To dazzle the 44,000 spectators who attended the shows, and thank Singaporeans for their support of the air force over the years, the pilots pushed their skills and their aircraft to the limit.

Major Chang Haw Ning, 38, team leader for the fighter aerial display segment for the Marina Barrage performance, told The Straits Times that pulling off the manoeuvres was challenging even for the pilots with four to five years of flying experience.

The team starting planning them since November last year. He said: "When the pilots first came in, they thought: 'How difficult could it be?' But after the first sortie, they came down covered in sweat."

The senior instructor, who has been flying the F-16 for about 15 years, said flying close to the ground and to one another are difficult manoeuvres because both are not part of operational flying.

"If we do below 5,000ft in normal training, we're not supposed to do any rolling or inverted manoeuvres as it is considered dangerous. But for the show, we're specifically trained and aware of the risks involved, so we're cleared to do it," said Captain Pee Jun Yong, 30, who flies the F-15SG.

He was roped in in June when another pilot had to pull out due to family commitments.

Captain Ingkiriwang Reeve, 30, one of the AH-64D Apache pilots, said it was a humbling experience training for the show, even for a senior instructor like him with about 1,500 hours of flight time under his belt. During their trial runs using simulators, they almost crashed, said Capt Reeve.

The team of six pilots spent close to two months in the simulators before the first flight. Even then, they started at a relatively high altitude of about 305m, with a single aircraft. "Doing aerial displays is not the helicopter's primary role; it's not the pilots' primary role, nor the squadron's," he said.

"We are bringing the aircraft to manoeuvring boundaries and limitations, which we don't typically do during training... As such, aerodynamically, there are more stressors on the aircraft and more preventive maintenance is required."

One of the maintenance crew, Third Sergeant Staes-Polet Robin, 20, an air force technician, said one main challenge was to meet the maintenance schedule for the aircraft to fly on time.

The full-time national serviceman said: "I hope when people see the jets, they will understand the hard work we put in - the whole crew, not just the pilots, even though they play a major part," he said.

Capt Reeve said the display was "all about giving back to the people, inspiring the young, strengthening their awareness and affinity for the air force". "All the roaring engines and noise we create - (it is) for people to understand what we're doing and why, which is to train hard to continue protecting the country," he added.


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