The show at the Airshow

17 02 2016

Photographs from yesterdays aerial display at the Singapore Airshow.

The aerial display, featuring both military and commercial jets, is undoubtedly the main draw for many during the biennial Singapore Airshow and its previous incarnations. This year’s show, disappointingly, features only one acrobatic team – that from the Republic of Korea Air Force’s Black Eagles. The Black Eagles, who also performed during the last airshow, again wowed the crowd with their spectacular aerial stunts in a 23 minute display that included painting the sky with their trademark Taegeuk symbol. The airshow, runs until Friday for Trade Visitors and is opened to the public this weekend. More information is available at https://www.singaporeairshow.com/aerobatic-flying-display.html (trade days) and https://www.singaporeairshow.com/aerobatic-flying-display-public.html (public days).

ROK AF Black Eagles flying the domestically produced T-50 Golden Eagle.

ROK AF Black Eagles flying the domestically produced T-50 Golden Eagle.

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The Taegeuk.

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The USAF F-16C in a solo display.

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The super silent Airbus A350 XWB.

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Another of the Airbus A350 XWB.

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RMAF’s highly manoeuvrable SU-30MKM.

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RMAF’s highly manoeuvrable SU-30MKM in a vertical climb.

The RSAF AH-64D Apache and F-15SG Integrated Display.

The RSAF AH-64D Apache and F-15SG Integrated Display.

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RAF Seletar’s last barrack block

26 05 2015

A part of Singapore that has seen a transformation in recent times is Seletar. The area was once occupied by the Royal Air Force (RAF) Seletar station or RAF Seletar, which at its establishment in 1928, held the distinction of being its largest station in the Far East. Vacated by the British during the 1971 pullout of forces, the former air base was used by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) as Seletar Camp, home to several units including ones that I was most familiar with from my involvement professionally in floating military bridges, such as the Combat Engineers.

A survivor of RAF Seletar.

Block 450, one of the last survivors of RAF Seletar.

Beyond Block 450 and a few other remnants, little is left of the oldest British Far East air station.

Beyond Block 450 and a few other remnants, little is left of the oldest British Far East air station.

The charm the area long had a reputation for and its laid back appeal provided by the  generously spaced clusters of old world military buildings and dwellings, retained even during the days of the SAF military camp, is now fast being lost. The transformation it is now seeing, involves not just an expansion of its now civilian airport, Seletar Airport, but also the development of a 320 ha. industrial Seletar Aerospace Park. These developments has left its scars on Seletar, a Seletar but for a few reminders of the old world, is one now hard to recognise.

The iconic entrance complex over the years.

The iconic entrance complex over the years.

One part of the former RAF station that serves to remind us of the old military installation is the iconic entrance  complex with its gate and guardhouse – although a two-storey building that somehow provided the camp’s entrance with some of its past flavour has since been lost. It is beyond the gate house, past what some may feel is Singapore’s equally famous Piccadilly Circus, down the Piccadilly – the road to the East Camp; even if it deceives at its start in evoking a sense of the old world, that the visitor is confronted by the changing face of Seletar.

The entrance gate in RAF Seletar days.

It was down the same Piccadilly, at least what it had been before the recently introduced confusion of roads, that a group of servicemen past and present, gathered to celebrate the past as well as a survivor of the past, a barrack building, that if not for it, might have made the celebration’s venue – now dominated by new roads and newly turfed spaces, not such an obvious choice.

The barrack building, Block 450.

The barrack building, Block 450.

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RAF Seletar was where life began for 160 Squadron.

RAF Seletar was where life began for 160 Squadron.

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The barrack building, Block 450, more affectionately referred to as “Alpha”, was at the heart of the area that was not only the birthplace of the servicemen’s unit, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) 160 Squadron in 1970, but also that of the RSAF’s air defence set-up. Its heritage, that of the RAF air station, and 160 Squadron,  Singapore’s first and longest serving air defence unit, celebrated with a heritage storyboard for which the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the 160 Anti-Aircraft (AA) Alumni and 160 Squadron came together to produce.

The 160 Squadron's 35mm Oerlikon AA gun - the onetime backbone of the AA defence system on display at Block 450.

The 160 Squadron’s 35mm Oerlikon AA gun – the onetime backbone of the AA defence system on display at Block 450.

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The launch of the heritage storyboard, by Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, was the highlight of the gathering. It provided an opportunity not just to learn about the unit and its role in the air defence of Singapore – something Minister Chan emphasised in his speech by saying how, put less crudely, our young now have a greater chance of being hit by droppings from airborne beings of an avian kind than ones with more destructive potential; but also to have a more intimate look at the barrack building through the Heritage Walk @ 450 Seletar staged by the 160 AA Alumni.

Mr Chan Chun Seng and President of the 160 AA Alumni MAJ(NS) Jayson Goh launching the heritage storyboard.

Mr Chan Chun Seng and President of the 160 AA Alumni MAJ(NS) Jayson Goh launching the heritage storyboard.

An exhibit tracing the evolution of aids to aircraft recognition in one of the rooms in Block 450.

An exhibit tracing the evolution of aids to aircraft recognition, from the use of the OHP, 35mm slides and printed material, in one of the rooms in Block 450.

An exhibition of photographs.

An exhibition of photographs.

An improvised fire-alarm.

An improvised fire-alarm.

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Typical of barrack blocks built during the Far East military build-up in the 1920s and 1930s, blocks such as Alpha – of which there were at least ten in RAF Seletar, provided shelter not just for the Anti-Aircraft gunners of 160 Squadron – who moved out in 2002, but also to numerous men in the service of His (and later Her) Majesty’s Government. Built in 1930, Block 450 is the only one in Seletar to have survived, having been gazetted for conservation as part of the 2014 Master Plan together with Block 179 – the former Station Headquarters, along with 32 bungalows in the former air base.

The Heritage Walk @ 450 Seletar also offered a peek into the conserved barrack building.

The Heritage Walk @ 450 Seletar also offered a peek into the conserved barrack building.

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Architecturally similar to many other barrack blocks put up in the era – I had the experience of it from my reservist days in Sembawang Camp (the former HMS Terror)  before it was renewed, the block is an example of the tropical military architecture of the age. Those were times forgotten when it was desirable to maximise comfort levels of the buildings’s occupants, without an over-dependence on high levels of energy consumption. Measures typically employed to provide maximum ventilation and shade is seen in the wide verandahs and in the provision of ample openings, is a very noticeable feature of Block 450. Some of this is also described in the URA’s Conservation Portal:

Like the former Station Headquarters, this building was designed in the tropical Art Deco style that was favoured by the British military. The use of traditional timber windows and doors with the then relatively new medium of reinforced concrete demonstrates a combination of traditional and modern design approaches.

As a response to the humid tropical climate, the building has long and continuous covered verandahs complemented by inner facades featuring timber-louvred windows, doors and pre-cast concrete vents to promote cross-ventilation. Other features of the building include moulded Art Deco style motifs at the top of every column which help to adorn this otherwise simple yet functional building.

A view of a sister block, H Block in the West Camp, in its early days (online at http://81squadron.com).

The wooden louvred doors along the generously sized verandah. The moulded Art Deco style motifs can be seen at the top of the pillars.

The wooden louvred doors along the generously sized verandah. The moulded Art Deco style motifs can be seen at the top of the pillars.

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Abandoned by its one-time companions, which I am told in the days of 160 Squadron would have included a parade square in its shadow, as well as building housing the squadron headquaters, the ops room and also hangars where the guns were stored across the Piccadilly, Block 450 now stands alone, out of place against the now vastly altered surroundings. It may be a shame that we are are unable to hold on to spaces such as Seletar with its rich history and its unique and now hard to find charm, but we have to be thankful for the conservation of buildings such as Block 450. While it will not come anywhere close to reminding us of the beautiful space Seletar once was, we will at least have several reminders that tell us of a history that will otherwise be forgotten.

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Further information on Block 450 and conservation within the former RAF Seletar:

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Behind that fast, furious, sky-high NDP salute

4 07 2014

It is in a very brief but spectacular moment that five of Singapore’s most advanced fighter jets the F-15SG, with their afterburners on, will, from some 300 to 400 metres above Marina Bay, will wow the crowds at this year’s National Day Parade (NDP) in their salute to the nation. The display, a regular feature of more recent NDPs, “A Salute to the Nation”, has to surely be a crowd favourite that involves only the best-of-the-best in air crew in a demonstration of extreme piloting skill that sees the jets separated, wing-tip to wing-tip, by a distance of just 3 feet (0.9 metres).

149 SQN's F-15SGs lining up for take-off at Paya Lebar Air Base for the NDP 2014 practice session (photo courtesy of  MINDEF, Airforce Information Center).

149 SQN’s F-15SGs lining up for take-off at Paya Lebar Air Base for the NDP 2014 practice session (photo courtesy of MINDEF, Airforce Information Center).

I was provided with the rare opportunity to go behind the scenes that allowed me to get a glimpse of what does go on in the lead up to that fleeting wow moment with a visit to the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s (RSAF) 149 SQN, at Paya Lebar Air Base on Saturday. The visit, arranged for a group of bloggers, provided the chance to understand some of the challenges that the execution of the salute presents to the air crew, get a first-hand view of some of the preparations, and get up close with the pilots and aircraft, along with the thrill of seeing the jets take-off for Saturday’s NDP practice session right by the runway (as we understand it – there are a total of seven practices that the team participates in – four of which are carried out during the NDP rehearsals).

On the runway before take-off (photo courtesy of MINDEF, Airforce Information Center).

On the runway before take-off (photo courtesy of MINDEF, Airforce Information Center).

In the informative briefing that was provided by Commanding Officer MAJ Nick Wong – who also leads the display team, we were introduced to the six pairs of air crew – each comprising a Pilot and a Weapons Systems Officer (Fighter) –  a sixth aircraft in the five aircraft display is always on standby and maintains a holding position as a replacement in event one of the five aircraft has for some reason to pull out.

The six pairs of men who will take the F-15SGs up into the air for the Salute to the Nation.

The six pairs of men who will take the F-15SGs up into the air for the Salute to the Nation.

The line-up.

The line-up.

Among the challenges that MAJ Wong spoke of was the importance of getting the timing right in the execution as well as in maintaining a correct line and formation, especially when the move involves the use of the afterburners. Rapid decision making is often required in response to always changing timings in order to ensure that the execution is perfect.

Shadow play - MAJ Nick Wong demonstrating how tight the aircraft are in maintaining formation.

Shadow play – MAJ Nick Wong demonstrating how tight the aircraft are in maintaining formation.

The group also got to see some of the preparations before each flight including the kitting up of the air crew and the pre-flight inspection and start-up routine for the aircraft. The kit that the crew puts on includes a anti-G suit to counter the effects of the G-Forces experienced by the crew (the crew can be subjected to acceleration forces that reach as much as 9G during flight manoeuvres). Interestingly, there is also a bag into which the crew, when needed, answer the call of nature into. The bag is filled with a powder substance that turns into a gel on contact with liquid waste.

Kitted out with the Anti-G suit.

Kitted out with the Anti-G suit.

The man they call "Shrek", CPT Chia, showing the bag the crew answer the call of nature into.

The man they call “Shrek”, CPT Chia, showing the bag the crew answer the call of nature into.

The flight helmet.

The flight helmet.

The entire flight kit weighs as much as 15 kg.

The entire flight kit weighs as much as 15 kg.

At the weather shed, we got up-close to one of the aircraft being prepared. The pre-flight checks and preparation involves both the Air Crew as well as the Flight Line Crew in ensuring the aircraft is prepared adequately and is safe to launch. The 149 SQN Flight Line Crew has both Full-Time National Servicemen (NSFs) as well as Regular Air Force Engineers who are also involved in both pre and post-flight inspections, as well as maintenance on the aircraft.

The F-15SG in the Weather Shed.

The F-15SG in the Weather Shed.

Pre-Flight Inspections being done by both the AIr Crew and Flight Line Crew.

Pre-Flight Inspections being done by both the Air Crew and Flight Line Crew.

Getting Ready to launch the F-15SG.

Getting Ready to launch the F-15SG.

More on the 149 SQN’s F-15SGs, which attained Full Operational Capability in September 2013, can be found at both the MINDEF website (see – Fact Sheet: The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)’s F-15SG Multi-role Aircraft) and the RSAF’s Facebook Page (see – F-15SG in action during the latest Exercise Forging Sabre. More on NDP 2014 can also be found at the NDP website.

Out the F-15SG goes.

Out the F-15SG goes.

Taxiing to the runway.

Taxiing to the runway.

A member of the Flight Line Crew.

A member of the Flight Line Crew.

A f-15SG commencing a take-off run (photo courtesy of MINDEF, Airforce Information Center).

A F-15SG commencing a take-off run (photo courtesy of MINDEF, Airforce Information Center).

Lining-up (photo courtesy of MINDEF, Airforce Information Center).

Lining-up (photo courtesy of MINDEF, Airforce Information Center).

 

 





A sneak peek at the Singapore Airshow 2014

9 02 2014

The much anticipated Singapore Airshow 2014 (SA14) opens this week at the Changi Exhibition Centre with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) celebrating a significant milestone, its 45th Anniversary. Marking this milestone, visitors to the airshow will be treated to an event, the RSAF45@SA, which will see an RSAF Pavilion in which the RSAF will showcase its transformation into the 3rd generation force it is today. Members of the public can also look forward not just to the ever popular aerial acrobatic displays from the RSAF Black Knights and aircraft from several other international air forces, but also to the chance to win rides during the public days on either a C-130 transport aircraft or a Chinook helicopter that offers passengers the treat of spectacular views over Singapore. A sneak peek at what’s in store at RSAF45@SA follows. More information and to sign up for the chance to win the rides on RSAF’s aircraft, do visit the RSAF’s Facebook Page (registration for the ballot should be submitted by today 9 Feb 2014).


A sneak peek at the Singapore Airshow 2014 and RSAF45@SA

Acrobatic Aerial Displays

RSAF Black Knights

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RAAF F-18 and ROKAF Black Eagles

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Rides on RSAF Aircraft

Ride with a view.

Ride with a view – a photo taken during a preview of the Chinook  ride.

Stand a chance to win a ride on a Chinook (seen here) or a C-130 Transport Aircraft.

Stand a chance to win a ride on a Chinook (seen here) or a C-130 Transport Aircraft.

An iPhone pano taken inside the Chinook during a preview.

An iPhone pano taken inside the Chinook during a preview.

Another view inside the Chinook during a preview of the ride.

Another view inside the Chinook during a preview of the ride.


RSAF Pavilion

The Air Force Recruitment Centre at RSAF45@SA will showcase the various career schemes and vocations through its “One Force” campaign which includes the interactive “One Force” smartphone application. Visitors can download the One Force app (Google Play – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.swagsoft.rsaf&hl=en / iTunes* – https://itunes.apple.com/sg/app/one-force/id798763850?mt=8) which provides an interactive experience by scanning through placement of  your phone in front of a commercial being screened. Instructions on how to use the One Force app can be found at http://goo.gl/ztmrlh.

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Static Display

Key highlights of the static display include the F-15SG, G550-AEW, SPYDER Air Defence System as well as the Heron 1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and Hermes 450 UAV. Other aircraft types on display include the F-16D+ and the F-5S/T fighter aircraft, C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, AH-64D Apache attack helicopter; CH-47D Chinook and Super Puma helicopters. Other ground-based air defence systems on display include the Mechanised IGLA, I-Hawk, RBS-70 and Mistral.

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Even ships seemed to take-off at a wet Singapore Airshow 2012

19 02 2012

The Singapore Airshow (formerly the Changi International Airshow) is an event that I looked forward to with much anticipation, with its promise of getting up close to some of the latest aircraft – both civilian and military and the opportunity to watch some spectacular flying displays. This year’s edition of the biennial Airshow was held from 14 to 19 February at the Changi Exhibition Centre and saw the likes of the newest addition to the Boeing Civil Aircraft range – the state-of-the-art 787 Dreamliner, as well as the latest addition to the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) – the Boeing F-15SG Strike Eagle gracing the event. The RSAF’s F-15SG features also in a duet with the RSAF’s Lockheed Martin F-16 in an aerial duet during the flying display programme which also sees the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s (RMAF) five MIG-29 RMAF Smokey Bandits aerobatic display team which includes the world’s only female MIG-29 pilot, Major Patricia Yapp Syau Yin.

A RMAF MIG-29 - one of the five MIG-29 RMAF Smokey Bandits aerobatic display team.

The Smokey Bandits are so named due to the trail of black smoke the MIG-29s leave. One of the solo pilots of the RMAF's Smokey Bandits is Major Patricia Yapp Syau Yin - the world's only female MIG-29 pilot.

The highlight as with every airshow must be the flying display and besides the duet of the RSAF’s F-16 and the F-15SG, and the RMAF’s Smokey Bandits, there were also displays by the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) team of six Pilatus PC-9/A aircraft, a solo acrobatic display by RAAF pilot Tony Blair piloting a Rebel 300 unlimited aerobatic aircraft and a fly past by a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III – a troop deployment and cargo craft used for tactical airlift and airdrop missions by the United States Air Force (USAF).

The RSAF's latest acquisition - the Boeing F-15SG Strike Eagle debuts in a aerial dance with the RSAF's Lockheed Martin F-16 during the flying display.

The RSAF F-15SG Strike Eagle.

The RMAF Smokey Bandits performed some eye-catching aerial stunts ....

Another spectacular display was by the RAAF Roulettes team of six Pilatus PC-9/A. The flying display segments also included a fly past by a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III and a solo acrobatic display by RAAF pilot Tony Blair piloting a Rebel 300 unlimited aerobatic aircraft.

The airshow also saw the appearance for the first time in Singapore of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner which with the extensive use of composites features an extremely lightweight structure which improves fuel efficiency. The appearance of the state-of-the-art in Boeing’s wide-body long-range fleet was also complemented by the appearance of one of Boeing’s success stories – the Boeing 747. A retiring 747-400 – one of the three that remain in Singapore Airlines’ fleet – the ‘9V-SPQ’ made an appearance over the weekend to commemorate the retirement of the airline’s B747 fleet after nearly 40 years of service. The aircraft was opened to some 1000 members of public during the public days for a guided tour and starts a series of events to commemorate the B747’s many years of service with the airline – during which it was the flagship aircraft. The B747-400 is scheduled to operate its last commercial flight to Melbourne on 24 March 2012. An additional commemorative flight is also being considered. Singapore Airlines took delivery of its first B747-200 in 1973, with the B747-300 BIGTOP joining the fleet some 10 years later which allowed the airline to fly non-stop from London to Singapore in 1984. The first 747-400 arrived in 1989 and with the delivery of the 23rd B747-400 in 1994, Singapore Airlines became the largest B747-400 operator in the world. By 2003, the airline operated a record 51 B747s.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner made an appearance in Singapore for the first time.

The raked wingtip of the 787 Dreamliner.

The retiring Singapore Airlines Boeing 747-400 '9V-SPQ' made an appearance over the weekend. The plane is one of three 747-400s left in the airlines' fleet and its appearance at the airshow commemorates the retirement of the B747 fleet after nearly 40 years of service.

The airshow’s static display also included a display of more than 50 aircraft that also included a display of the latest business jets which also featured Jackie Chan’s Embraer Legacy 650 executive jet which made its first public appearance and an Airbus ACJ318 corporate jet. Interesting highlights of the exhibition included the Changi Airport Group’s Butterfly Garden and walk through tropical garden which offered a break from the seriousness of the rest of the exhibition and a booth that celebrated 100 years of aviation in Singapore.

The nose of RSAF G550 AEW airborne early warning platform.

The RSAF's F-15SG.

The frontal view of the F-15SG.

Rain falling on the tarmac.

A reflection of the tail of an aircraft on static display with a visitor under the shelter of an umbrella in the rain.

Another relfection in the rain.

Students taking shelther under the wing of an aircraft - the wet weather did not dampen enthusiasm for the airshow.

A model of a ship flying at the airshow?

There were several distractions at the airshow as well ...