Monday, April 5, 2010

Stealth fighters

You know you have a problem with defence media relations when the arrival of Singapore's most powerful warplanes doesn't merit one nano second of coverage on state television news.

I plonked myself in front of the idiot box in time for the 21:30 Hotel English bulletin this evening, hoping to catch television footage of the Boeing F-15SG Strike Eagles that arrived recently in Singapore.

Zilch. Nothing on Singapore's Prime Time news bulletin on the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) most lethal warplanes. That the F-15SGs are aircraft killer's with an unrivaled combat record failed to attract the Singaporean TV media. Ditto the twin-seat warplane's bragging rights as the RSAF's most pricey fast jet.

Perhaps there was a TV news blackout? If that was the case, it was a bad call.

Singaporean tax payers need to know how their defence dollars are spent.

Potential hostiles need to be told how the Third Generation RSAF has sharpened its combat edge. The Air Combat Command's 149 Squadron at Paya Lebar Airbase has swapped its F-5 Tiger IIs for a far more capable, all-weather warplane. Does anyone care?

Our friends in the region - and this includes many countries in Singapore's neighbourhood - need to be assured that tiny Singapore will not be the weak link in the region's security architecture.

If TV editors couldn't be coaxed to send down a film crew, then it's the job of the Public Affairs Directorate (PAFF) to show strong leadership by educating journalists on the new fighters that defend Singaporean skies.

If the TV news blackout was initiated by the Singaporean Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) itself (this is unlikely), then PAFF must point out to Level 5 why 149 SQN's new warbirds deserve media coverage.

When I was a full-time National Serviceman at PAFF, one of the media events we helped organise with HQ RSAF was the arrival of F-16A/B Fighting Falcons from CONUS (yes, with refuelling stops in between).

We briefed journalists on the new fighter jets days before the event in such simple language that defence novices who didn't know the difference between an M-16 and F-16 could write a credible piece on the then-new fighter jets.

PAFF was asked to give the event a soft touch. PAFF's media officers worked with HQ RSAF and 140 SQN to ensure the Peace Carvin 1 loved ones were on hand to receive the pilots. Air force wives smoothered the flyboys with hugs and kisses.

The photo of detachment commander LTC Looi Han Seng being received by his wife and two young sons made a touching family portrait. Standing like a silent sentinel in the background - the RSAF's first F-16 Fighting Falcons. It made a powerful image of the air force might that stands ready, day and night, to protect those whom we love.

What would you defend? One look and one could tell what LTC Looi, his pilots and groundcrew would fight to protect.

The F-16s were soon regular participants in Five Power Defence Arrangements war games and flew alongside warplanes from Australia, Britain, New Zealand and Malaysia.

Fast forward 20 years. What of the F-15SGs?

They are the RSAF's latest "stealth fighters", having succeeded in evading TV coverage on the day their existence in the Lion City was acknowledged by the sparse MINDEF news release.

How would I describe the entity in PAFF who has rundown the directorate so badly?

I would use one word: I won't tell you what it is as students read this blog.

But it rhymes with the aircraft maker whose planes replaced Colosa.


RX said...


Anonymous said...

Mudda Fokkers!

Mike Y said...

The Dutch plane maker would be my guess, too ;P

Compare the treatment the arrival of our Eagles got from the media and MINDEF, with the coverage the ADF gave to the recent return of 5 of the RAAF's Super Hornets (go to Image Galleries - at least 8 hi-res image galleries including air-to-air imagery), and weep.

Wolverine said...

I second the motion on the "Fokker"

Wolverine said...

I second the motion on the "Fokker"

goat89 said...

I, however, agree on a media blackout... at the start. There might have been security reasons... but I feel that sooner or later, the media should do a pice on it. Not on the exact day itself, but maybe a week later. And yes, the RAAF did a fine job on their Hornets coming over from the States.

bdique said...

Indeed. Bloody Fokker, even the Iranians are more proud of some of the odd stuff they can render airborne. Hell, is PAFF leadership (really, referring to one person only) content with not being worse than DPRK in the media battle?

Btw MINDEF website has 3 paltry pics so far. Hoping cyberpioneer will come out with some good ones, thought that the ones from the S-70 exercise in US was pretty good...

Mike Y said...

goat89, the Aussies have their own terrorist issues as well, with a significant minority or citizens/residents being from the Middle East and multiple cells being busted in the previous years. So out terror concerns are not unique to us.

And from my understanding, the RAAF is usually very tetchy about civvies hanging around near Amberley, but cut people some slack on the day of the Super Hornets arrival.

Anonymous said...

"Our friends in the region - and this includes many countries in Singapore's neighbourhood - need to be assured that tiny Singapore will not be the weak link in the region's security architecture."


David Boey said...

The DPAs I served (COL Kwan Yue Yeong and COL R Menon) and some of the officers who assumed the post in subsequent years had more clout than a certain someone known to bully his own staff officers.

The DPAs of yore would have nailed down TV airtime for the F-15SG event. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
140SQN said...

What a spoiler...none on CNA/CH5 but only short clips on CH8 & CH U news(11pm slot), just prior to the Sports news segment...if this isn't newsworthy, i dont know what is!

xtemujin said...

Sad to see that there were no news coverage on CNA, it should have been a big event as new fighters have just reached the Singapore shore.

We'll have to hear what the spin doctors have to say about it.


Spotter said...

What a ton of shit from the PAFF. Might as well not exist. Wasted opportunity to exploit the publicity to hammer in the message: Don't mess with me, I got the best fighter planes!

FinalFive said...

I am tremendously disappointed that this didn't get the sort of publicity it deserved. Especially in a time where some Romanian playboy has messed up 3 Sg men and it now seems like an entire foreign nation is being coy with then injustice that we are left with. I guarantee you that there's some purpose behind not playing up the publicity. But I question whether that purpose is fair.

Assuming for the sake of argument, that the point that PAFF sought to make was to maintain ammo for later publicity - so stage by stage release stories on the F-15SG, would we have different responses today? I think not. That would be a damn stupid reason.

What other reason could there be? :-) I wonder.

Anonymous said...

maybe the MSM weren't interested in running the story?

Anonymous said...

Repost w/o email address:
"I find it strange for S'pore to stay so quiet too, as most of the specs of our F-15SG and the armaments we're buying (except possible modifications by our "Mexican" friends) are already on Wikipedia and who knows where. Would be nice to know where they stopped over on the journey home and if they refueled mid-flight from our tankers. I'm guessing there are probably enough USAF/USN airbases along the way for these jets to land and refuel, maybe except for the last leg over the South China Sea(?). Doesn't look like Uncle Sam wants to keep these sources a secret so it's likely our own people who want to stay mum about this operation.

April 6, 2010 11:13 AM"

FIVE-TWO said...

as I was saying elsewhere, even Mountain Home AFB staged a bigger welcome for them ;@!

Anonymous said...

Considering that this is the purchase of a fighter that first flew in 1972...

It is hardly newsworthy.

weasel1962 said...

This was good coverage with close-up views esp of the tiger-eyes/sniper. Nice.