Friday, September 29, 2023

Republic of Singapore Air Force RSAF Gulfstream G550 AEW makes long trip to Davis-Monthan AFB, same base where new USAF EW was showcased

The crew of this Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Gulfstream G550 Airborne Early Warning (AEW), tail number 010, from 111 Squadron, landed safely this week at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tuscon, Arizona, USA.

Bearing callsign SINGA72, the RSAF G550 made a direct flight to Tuscon from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Hawaii.

Davis-Monthan is home to the USAF's specialised electronic warfare unit, the 55th Electronic Combat Group. On 17 August, the unit hosted the first visit by a new model of the Compass Call EW aircraft, designated the EC-37B. The new Compass Call is based on the G550 and has conformal sensors on the right and left side of the forward fuselage, similar to the RSAF's configuration.

An interesting coincidence...

Pictures of RSAF G550 "010" from DMAviation (@cay89455610 on X, formerly known as Twitter)

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Special vehicle for mobile satcom at RSAF Paya Lebar Airbase


Interesting vehicle with what appears to be a satellite dish on its cabin, seen at the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Open House at Paya Lebar Airbase.

This looks like a 2.4m C or Ku-band antenna for transmitting and receiving voice, video or data to and from a communications satellite. The satellite cabin and generator (blue box at the rear) are mounted on a Hino truck. I guess this is quite a capable antenna. It could pack the capability equivalent to a TV broadcasting studio on that truck.

Nothing says "network centric" better than seeing one of these vehicles. I have so many questions.... LOL

I guess I am not the only one who has a thing for specialised vehicles?

Today is the last day of the RSAF Open House, held to mark the air force's 55th anniversary! Free entry. For more:

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Republic of Singapore Air Force RSAF anti-drone radars and jammers at Paya Lebar Airbase

The 1950s era airport buildings from the former Singapore International Airport at Paya Lebar appear to have been updated to deal with 21st century situations involving Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).

Rooftop anti-drone sensors seem to have been installed on buildings now used by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) at Paya Lebar Airbase. These sensors are believed to serve as anti-drone radars (sensor closest to the right corner), RF jammer (flat face array with vertical antenna), and a drone detection camera at the left corner. All sensors offer all-around coverage, by day and by night.

The anti-drone radar looks similar to RAFAEL's Drone Dome counter-UAS system, which was previously showcased in a 2020 Facebook post by then Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung. The Drone Dome system in that Facebook update was apparently installed at Changi Airport.

The RSAF Open House, held to mark the Singapore air force's 55th anniversary, is open to the public from today and tomorrow at PLAB. Entry is free. For more:

Friday, September 8, 2023

Republic of Singapore Air Force RSAF reveals Python 5 AAM for first time

Always read the info boards of Singapore Armed Forces assets! Spot anything new?

RSAF 55 Open House
Paya Lebar Air Base
Saturday 9 Sep to Sunday 10 Sep 2023
9am to 6pm (The event is Free)

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

RSAF Open House 2023: Four tips to enjoy the Singapore air force's 55th anniversary show

The last time Paya Lebar Air Base welcomed the public was in 2016. Large crowds attended the Air Force Open House that year. This weekend's event at Paya Lebar Air Base, held to mark the Republic of Singapore Air Force's 55th anniversary, is expected to be a major crowd-puller.

RSAF 55 Open House
Paya Lebar Air Base
Saturday 9 Sep to Sunday 10 Sep 2023
9am to 6pm (The event is Free)

Get your queue number early
Register on the RSAF Open House website,, to get in line to sit in the cockpits of various RSAF fighter aircraft.

The RSAF 55 Open House Capability Display area. Shutter bugs should note there is no spectator stand, so you may want to position yourself close to the safety barricade before the crowd builds up. Bring ear plugs - you'll need them.

Plan your journey so you can catch the flying display. If you're a shutter bug (no, not THAT Shutter), go early as there is no spectator stand this year. You may want to place yourself near the barricade in front of the parked F-15SG aircraft to view the display. Bring ear plugs!

Capability Display (i.e. flying display) show times:
Held twice a day. Among the highlights: You'll see two F-15SG Strike Eagles start up and takeoff, a H.225M helicopter deploy a section of seven heliborne infantry from 3 Guards, and an Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport play the role of an "aircraft in distress".

Morning 10:30am to 11:45am
Afternoon 3pm to 4pm
Morning 10:30am to 11:30am
Afternoon 3pm to 4pm

Plan your entry and exit. Note that there is NO provision for you to park at the event. So it's a choice of shuttle bus, public transport, taxi/private hire vehicle, or walking in. 

Shuttle Bus locations:
18 Tai Seng S539775
Circle Line Tai Seng CC11, Exit C
1st bus: 8am
Last bus: 4:30pm

Hougang Bus Park S538833
North East Line Hougang NE14, Exit A
1st bus: 8am
Last bus: 4:30pm

By bus:
Bus 90: Toa Payoh Bus Interchange
Bus 94: Eunos Bus Interchange

TIP 4 - What's new?
The H.225M helicopter and CH-47F Chinook, the latest model of the heavy-lift helicopter, and the MRTT will go on display for the first time. This unmanned ground vehicle under trial as an airbase patrol asset is something I've not seen before. There's also a weapon loading thingy near the F-15SGs which I think is being shown for the first time.

Do note that places for aircraft joyrides have already been allocated by online balloting. 

Random thoughts on RSAF55 Open House
One observation from my walkabout at Paya Lebar Air Base yesterday, where the RSAF will stage the Air Force Open House this weekend, was the large number of personnel who are first-timers to hosting such an event.

As PLAB last held an open house seven years ago, it's perhaps no surprise that many in the tribe are new to this form of public engagement. Their learning curve will be steep.

Come Saturday, that first contact with a real crowd as the seemingly endless flood of people fill queue lines, testing the patience of RSAF duty personnel and planning assumptions of event logistics, can be an eye-opener. So here are some points they may want to ponder:

* Unlike previous AFOH, there is no grandstand at show centre. This means that apart from the first few ranks, people behind may find it difficult seeing the fighter aircraft scramble and the mock attack by the heliborne Guardsmen. Some will push their way through with bulky camera equipment. There will be children and elderly. How is your crowd management plan?

* The roadside and grass verge along Airport Road can become car magnets. At previous open houses, some drivers did try their luck by parking there, thus posing a safety hazard to other road users. Errant motorists must be chased off early. Once the few pull their parking brake, more will inevitably follow. That "bridgehead" cannot be allowed to form. Good news is that the Traffic Police HQ is just down the road. Would be good to consider enlisting their support for the weekend crowd surge. In extreme situations, manual control of traffic lights may be necessary to relieve traffic congestion.

* Shuttle bus queues can be tricky, as they build up quickly. It can be hard for new arrivals to find the end of the line. Mark this prominently. Have a generous overflow area for the queue - what's the wet wx plan? And watch for the odd queue jumpers. Past open house events, particularly one at Changi Naval Base which attracted some 100,000 visitors over a weekend decades ago, made the news for the wrong reasons.

* Is there scope to include the CAAS fire engine at this late juncture? Would be nice to see one on show, perhaps alongside some FDS vehicles. Children love to get close to such vehicles. I bet some visitors will even find a display of different aircraft tugs quite interesting and Instagram-worthy. 

Friday, September 1, 2023

I once asked to meet Dr Goh Keng Swee, Singapore's 1st defence minister, and he told me...

Thanks to my job as a journalist early in my career, I have met or seen in real life every Singaporean who served as defence minister (DM), except Mr Howe Yoon Chong.

The DM whom I wanted to meet for a long time was Dr Goh Keng Swee, one of the Old Guard minsters who helped shape the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) in its embryonic years.

I met Dr Goh in 1996. My mother, who thought she saw Dr Goh walking in a park near our home, told me about her chance encounter during one of her strolls. She also knew which house the old gentleman lived in. 

Curiosity aroused, I dropped a handwritten note into the letter box of the house where "Dr Goh" was thought to live. I asked if the former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior and Defence lived there and, summoning some pluck, expressed my wish to see him if that was indeed his residence.

I got a reply from Mrs Goh Keng Swee, who invited me over. The Gohs were kind and gracious to allow me into their home - which minister today would entertain such social calls from random strangers?

That meeting with Dr Goh was memorable, and for many good reasons. I have never forgotten that encounter or his parting words that advised how I should view the SAF. [After my meeting with Dr Goh, I had a much longer conversation with Mrs Goh. Many interesting points were shared, which I won't make public here as it was a private conversation.]

In my opinion, Dr Goh was the best DM Singapore ever had.

My views of those who followed were based on impressions of how they explained or dealt with issues off-script. Speeches, as many of you would know, are mostly written by staff officers. And whether a speech has impact or not depends to a large degree on the competence of the speech writer. So I tend to discount scripted speaking engagements. I also rely on what's shared by individuals who worked with the ministers. Such interactions reveal facets of character and decision making that only the inner circle would know. All of them have quirks - who amongst us doesn't?

Rear Admiral Teo Chee Hean's leadership as the SAF made its journey as a Third Generation (3G) fighting force was impressive. But as he came from the navy, his familiarity with military matters was a given. He made good use of that head start.

My sense is that after Dr Goh, Singapore's longest serving DM is the next most impressive. Dr Ng Eng Hen has made a successful transition from medicine to defence. He helmed MINDEF through some interesting phases of the SAF's 3G journey. Looking back, it is my view that Dr Ng's training as a cancer surgeon gave him the innate ability for clinical (no pun) analysis of complex issues, including the ability to assimilate bad news and make the most out of difficult situations. It is not easy telling a patient who has Stage 4 cancer about the prognosis and way ahead. It can be painful seeing cancer metastasize and claim a promising life. But this is what oncologists go through. Coming from a family where my late father, my mum and younger sister all were stricken with the Big C at some point in their lives, I know the emotional upheavals that a cancer diagnosis inevitably brings.

If you had to imagine a fictional character who made an ideal DM, what would that person be like? I have a good idea what my fictional DM would be like, and what he would do when ballistic missiles start falling.