Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Singapore Armed Forces Commandos Special Operations Force (SOF) at Army Open House 2017

High alert: Commandos from the Singapore Armed Forces Special Operations Force take centrestage during a rehearsal for the Dynamic Defence Display. Spectators will be able to photograph SOF troopers armed with H&K 416 5.56mm assault rifles and H&K MP7 4.6mm machine pistols. Of special interest is the attachment of silencers on all weapons.

Island defence: Special Operations Force (SOF) troopers, supported by Army Deployment Force troopers (foreground) equipped with ballistic shields, prepare a forced entry.

Let's Roll: The Special Operations Force demonstrate how they mount up on a Ford vehicle equipped with the Mobile Adjustable Ramp System (MARS) and Side Assault System (SAS). The vehicle is one of the few left-hand drive vehicles in the Singapore Armed Forces inventory. 

A demonstration involving the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Special Operations Force (SOF), like the one rehearsed yesterday for this weekend's Singapore Army Open House 2017 (AOH 2017), will herald the first known public display by the once-classified Commando #specialforces unit.

The SOF was such a tightly-guarded secret that it was deployed for operations even before the unit was publicly acknowledged.

On 26 March 1991, SOF operatives stormed Singapore Airlines flight SQ117 at Changi Airport. The hostage-rescue mission saved 123 passengers and crew aboard the Airbus A310 that was serving the KUL-SIN shuttle flight.

Four Pakistani hijackers had threatened to kill one hostage every 10 minutes unless their demands were met.

The hijackers gave Singapore authorities five minutes to respond.

We responded by the third minute by sending in the SOF to settle the issue.

Codenamed Operation Thunderbolt, the storming of SQ117 marked the first known instance when the SAF resolved a hijacking with deadly force. The veil of secrecy over the SOF was lifted only on Feb 20, 1997, nearly six years after the SQ117 rescue and some 13 years after the SOF was formed in April 1984. 

The SOF are among the highlights of this year's Army Open House, which is organised by the 6th Singapore Division.

While the SOF has been declassified, it is thought there are other closed units within the SAF whose capabilities, readiness and commitment are needed to help settle issues, should the need arise.

For more on AOH 2017, visit these sites: 
Singapore Army Facebook page


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