|Republic of Singapore Air Force|
|Angkatan Udara Republik Singapura |
|Founded||1 September 1968|
|Role||Air supremacy |
|Size||8,000 personnel (2020) |
|Part of||Singapore Armed Forces|
|March||Republic of Singapore Air Force March|
|Minister of Defence||Ng Eng Hen|
|Chief of Defence Force||Lieutenant General Melvyn Ong|
|Chief of Air Force||Major General Kelvin Khong|
|Air Force Command Chief||Military Expert 5 Ng See Lye|
|Fighter||F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-15E Strike Eagle, F-35B|
|Patrol||G550 AEW&C, Fokker 50 ME2|
|Trainer||M346, PC-21, TA-4SU, EC120|
|Transport||KC-130B & C-130H, Fokker 50 UTL, A330 MRTT, CH-47D/SD, Super Puma|
The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) is the aerial warfare branch of the Singapore Armed Forces. It was first founded on 1 September 1968 as the Singapore Air Defence Command (SADC), before being renamed to its current iteration on 1 April 1975.
The RSAF has undertaken a significant role in Singapore's military defence strategy since its formation. It has been considered by various military analysts[who?] as being the most technologically advanced air force in the region, with the ability to successfully continuously act as a strong deterrence from potential hostile nations as well as defending the city-state's airspace. The current commander[a] of the RSAF is Major General Kelvin Khong, serving since 2019.
As of 2021, the RSAF uses five air bases domestically, most notably at Paya Lebar and Tengah, as well as at civil airports such as Changi and Seletar. It also has overseas detachments in various countries or states, most notably in Australia, the United States, Thailand and Taiwan (ROC). In 2021, the RSAF had a strength of 8,000 active personnel and 319 aircraft.
In January 1968, the British, which by this time has lost most of its global prestige especially after the Suez Crisis and was facing major financial difficulties that was greatly exacerbated by the devaluation of the pound, announced the imminent withdrawal of all their troops "East of Suez" by the end of 1971. Prior to then, Singapore had depended heavily on Britain's Royal Air Force (RAF) for its air defence, while the newly established Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) had concentrated its efforts mainly on building up the land-based Singapore Army.
The predecessor to the RSAF, the SADC, was formed on 1 September 1968. The SADC's immediate task was to set up the Flying Training School to train pilots. Qualified flying instructors were obtained through Airwork Services Limited, a company specialising in defence services. Basic training for pilots was carried out using two Cessna light aircraft hired from the Singapore Flying Club. The SADC also enlisted the help of the Royal Air Force which introduced the first flying training syllabus and provided two ex-RAF pilots as instructors, as well as facilities and services at Seletar Airport. Finally, the first batch of six pilot trainees were sent to the United Kingdom in August 1968 to undergo training in various technical disciplines. The training was based on the Hawker Hunter, the SADC's first air defence fighter. The following month, another pioneer group of technicians, this time from the rotary wing, were sent to France to begin their technical training on the Aérospatiale Alouette III helicopter. In 1969, a number of local RAF technicians were released to join the fledgling SADC. These local technicians (local other ranks) had experience working on fixed-wing RAF aircraft such as the Hawker Hunter, Gloster Javelin, English Electric Canberra, English Electric Lightning and Avro Shackleton; as well as rotary-wing RAF aircraft such as the Bristol Belvedere, Westland Wessex and Westland Whirlwind.
Eight Cessna 172K aircraft - the SADC's first - arrived in May 1969 to be used for basic pilot training. By December, the first batch of students completed the course. Of these, six were sent to the UK to receive further training. On their return to Singapore in 1970, they were ready to operate the then newly acquired Hawker Hunter fighter aircraft.
The pace of training pilots and ground crew picked up gradually. On 1 August 1969, Minister for the Interior and Defence, Lim Kim San, inaugurated the Flying Training School (FTS) at Tengah Air Base (then known as RAF Tengah). The inauguration of FTS brought SADC closer to its goal of fulfilling the heavy responsibility of defending Singapore's airspace.
The subsequent arrival of the BAC Strikemasters in 1969, used for advanced phase flying training, meant that pilot trainees were now able to earn their initial wings locally rather than overseas. The first batch of locally trained fighter pilots were trained at the FTS and graduated in November 1970. Amongst this batch was 2LT Goh Yong Siang, who later rose to the appointment of Chief of Air Force on 1 July 1995. Gradually, the SADC had its own pilots, flying instructors, air traffic controllers, and ground crew.
When Britain brought forward its plan to withdraw its forces by September 1971, the SADC was suddenly entrusted with a huge responsibility and resources. Britain's former air bases - Tengah, Seletar, Sembawang and Changi - were handed over to the SADC, as well as its air defence radar station and Bloodhound II surface-to-air missiles.
In 1973, the SADC procured Shorts Skyvan search-and-locate aircraft and Douglas A-4 Skyhawk fighter-bombers. With a reliable mix of fighters, fighter-bombers, helicopters and transport aircraft, the SADC was ready to assume the functions of a full-fledged air force. On 1 April 1975, the SADC was renamed the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).
The RSAF celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2018 with the theme "Our Home, Above All". The RSAF celebrated its Golden Jubilee with an extended flypast during the national day parade on 9 August and also performed 2 sessions of aerial display at the Marina Barrage on 11 and 12 August. RSAF history factsheet can be accessed here.
The RSAF is led by the Chief of the Air Force (CAF) and Air Force Command Chief. The Air Staff comprises six functional departments: Air Manpower, Air Intelligence, Air Operations, Air Engineering and Logistics, Air Plans and Air Training. There are also two specialist departments: the Air Force Inspectorate (AFI) and the Office of the Chief Air Force Medical Officer (CAMO).
|Years in office||Name|
|Commander, Singapore Air Defence Command|
|1970-1972||Ee Tean Chye|
|Director Air Staff|
|1973-1975||John Francis Langer|
|1975-1975||W E Kelly|
|1975-1976||D J Rhodes|
|1976-1977||Murray Alexander Turnbull|
|1977-1980||Liu Ching Chuan|
|Deputy Commander, RSAF|
|1980-1982||Michael Teo Eng Cheng|
|1982-1984||Gary Yeo Ping Yong|
|1984-1985||Michael Teo Eng Cheng|
|1985-1990||Michael Teo Eng Cheng|
|Chief of Air Force|
|1990-1992||Michael Teo Eng Cheng|
|1992-1995||Bey Soo Khiang|
|1995-1998||Goh Yong Siang|
|1998-2001||Raymund Ng Teck Heng|
|2001-2006||Lim Kim Choon|
|2006-2009||Ng Chee Khern|
|2009-2013||Ng Chee Meng|
|2013-2016||Hoo Cher Mou|
|2016-2019||Mervyn Tan Wei Ming|
|2019-present||Kelvin Khong Boon Leong|
On 5 January 2007, Defence minister Teo Chee Hean announced that the Air Force organisation chart will be re-structured into five major commands, namely the Air Defence and Operations Command (ADOC), the Air Combat Command (ACC), the Participation Command (PC), the Air Power Generation Command (APGC) and the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Command (UC). The first to be inaugurated was ADOC, along the restructuring announcement.
ADOC is the principal agency in charge of planning and executing peacetime operations and air defence. ADOC is also responsible for the development and operational readiness of the command and control and ground-based air defence units of the RSAF.
The next command to be inaugurated was PC in January 2008.
The last two commands, ACC and APGC, were inaugurated together in August 2008 in conjunction with the RSAF 40th Anniversary. The ACC will bring together fighter and transport squadrons under one command, with central planning, control and execution of the air battle in operations. The APGC will enhance the missions of the ACC by ensuring that all air bases remain operational at all times, as well as improving the servicing and turn-around of aircraft to ensure continuous and responsive operations.
The ACC ("Poised And Deadly") is responsible for the planning, control and execution of the air battle in operations. It brings together all fighter and transport squadrons that will carry out these tasks under a single command which will be responsible for training the pilots and aircrew to think and operate in a fully integrated way. The ACC consists of the following groups:
The APGC ("Generate And Sustain") is set up to enable the RSAF to generate and sustain effective, timely and robust air power to meet the operational needs of the SAF. With the APGC, higher operational efficiency within each RSAF Air Base, and secondly, greater integration across the four bases are achieved. Units are classified under Air Base Operability (ABO) and Aircraft Generation (AcG). The APGC consists of the following groups:
The four support squadrons still remain organic to each Base but are under direct command of APGC. These four squadrons are: Airfield Maintenance Squadron (AMS), Ground Logistics Squadron (GLS), Field Defence Squadron (FDS) and Flying Support Squadron (FSS).
The main structures under UC("Persistent And Precise") are Operations & System Development Group (OSDG), headed by the Deputy Commander of UC. UC consists of the following groups:
The ADOC ("Vigilant & Ready") consist of the following:
The PC ("Integrate & Dominate") consists of the following groups:
The Air Force Training Command (AFTC) is an amalgamation of the former Air Force School, Flying Training School and UAV Training school which facilitates training of future pilots and ground crew of the RSAF. It is located at 550 Airport Road, Singapore 534236.
The training schools and squadrons under AFTC ("Excellence") consist of the following:
The backbone of the RSAF is formed by the Block 52/52+ F-16 Fighting Falcons. These are armed with US-supplied AIM-120C AMRAAM missiles and LANTIRN targeting pods, laser guided munitions and conformal fuel tanks for long-range strike.
While Singapore initially bought as many as 70 F-16 planes, on 18 November 2004, it was announced that the RSAF would offer its remaining 7 F-16A/Bs to the Royal Thai Air Force. It is believed that these early Block 15OCU aircraft were upgraded to "Falcon One" standard by ST Aerospace before the transfer and delivered in late 2005. In return, the RSAF was permitted to train at the Udon Royal Thai Air Force Base in north-east Thailand for a specified number of days each year. This would mean that the RSAF will operate only the Block 52/52+ model, as many as 62 F-16CJ/DJ planes.[definition needed]
Due to severe airspace constraints within Singapore, the RSAF operates its aircraft at several overseas locations to provide greater exposure to its pilots. With the F-16C/D Fighting Falcons, KC-135R Stratotankers, AH-64D Apaches and CH-47SD Chinook helicopters based in the United States, the Marchetti S-211s, PC-21s, and Super Puma helicopters in Australia, and the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master in France, almost one third of the force's inventory is based outside Singapore.
In 1994, the RSAF commenced a modernisation program for its fleet of approximately 49 operational (R)F-5E and F-5F aircraft. The upgrade was performed by Singapore Technologies Aerospace (STAero) and the upgraded aircraft were designated (R)F-5S and F-5T respectively, operating from Paya Lebar Air Base. These upgraded F-5S/T, equipped with the Galileo Avionica's FIAR Grifo-F X-band Radar are thought to be capable of firing the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile but to date, no actual live-firing has actually been reported. For in-flight refuelling, four KC-135Rs and four KC-130Bs are commissioned to support the fighter force of F-16C/Ds and (R)F-5S/Ts.
Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) capability was introduced in 1987 when four E-2C Hawkeyes were delivered to 111 Squadron. The duty of Maritime Patrol and Coastal surveillance is performed by the eight Fokker 50 MPA (entered service in 1991) of 121 Squadron, which can be armed with long-range anti-shipping AGM-84 Harpoon missiles and ASW torpedoes.
As part of its fleet renewal process, the RSAF officially withdrew its fleet of ST Aerospace A-4SU Super Skyhawk from front-line service on 31 March 2005 after 31 years of operations. The A-4SUs' achievements included flying directly from Singapore to the Philippines, incorporating the RSAF's first air-to-air refuelling mission in 1986, as well as the excellent aerobatic display of the 'red and white' Super Skyhawks flown by the RSAF Black Knights during Asian Aerospace 1990. A month before its retirement, the Skyhawk squadron won top honours in a strike exercise against its more modern F-16 and F-5 counterparts.
Singapore ordered a total of twenty AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters in two batches. After a long period of negotiations over the delivery of the sophisticated Longbow Fire-control radar, the first batch of eight aircraft, fitted with the Fire Control Radar, was delivered on 17 May 2002. The second batch of 12 Apaches were ordered in 2001 even before the first delivery took place. All of the initial eight Apaches are based in the United States. Three of the Apache Longbows returned in January 2006 at the request of the Minister of Defence.
Apart from the fifteen CH-47SDs delivered from 1996, a new batch of fifteen aircraft was ordered in 1997, with an option of four extra airframes. At least 30 CH-47SD have been delivered and are in service at Sembawang Air Base. It is believed that these had been upgraded to the SD standard prior to delivery.
Eight CH-47SDs were also deployed to support the relief efforts in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. It was the first and one of the few countries to reach the affected areas. The RSAF deployed dozens of C-130Hs, CH-47SDs and AS 332Ms there along with three of the RSN's latest Landing Ship Tanks (RSS Endurance, RSS Persistence and RSS Endeavour of the Endurance class LST) as well as Singapore Armed Forces vehicles, engineers, and medical teams.
In September 2005, the RSAF sent three CH-47SD Chinook helicopters, later augmented by a fourth CH-47SD Chinook, to provide assistance in the rescue and evacuation of stranded civilians after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and nearby areas in the United States. The humanitarian effort by Singapore involved more aircraft than any other foreign countries.
Since 2003, the RSAF has also made deployments of KC-135 tankers and C-130 aircraft to the Persian Gulf in support of the multinational efforts for the reconstruction of Iraq. RSAF personnel have carried out airlift, transportation and supply, and air-to-air refuelling missions in support of the multinational forces, assisting the Coalition in carrying supplies and personnel, transporting humanitarian material and conducting medical evacuation operations. In September 2013, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen stated in a parliamentary reply that Singapore would soon acquire the Aster 30 land-based missile system.
Military ranks in the Singapore Armed Forces are identical across the three services except for the flag ranks of the RSN. They are based on the Army model. The official table of ranks stops at three stars for all three services. NATO rank codes are not officially used, but are listed here for easy comparison with other armed forces.
Like the Navy, the majority of Air Force personnel are regulars. This is due to the specialised and technical nature of many jobs. The employment of National Servicemen in various roles are limited mostly to the infantry-like Field Defence Squadrons which do not require such specialised training.
In February 2003, Singapore joined the JSF program's System Design and Development (SDD) Phase, as a Security Co-operation Participant (SCP). The first deliveries of the F-35 Lightning II are not expected before 2021, but replacement for the bulk of the A-4SUs was needed by 2007. As a start, 20 F-16D Block 52+ have been delivered from 2003 under project Peace Carvin IV.
The RSAF embarked on its Next Generation Fighter (NGF) programme to replace the aging A-4SUs. The original list of competitors was shortlisted to the final two - Dassault Rafale and the Boeing F-15SG Strike Eagle. The F-15SG is a variant of the F-15E Strike Eagle and is similar in configuration to the F-15K sold to South Korea, but differs in the addition of the APG-63(V)3 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar developed by Raytheon. The F-15SG is powered by two General Electric F110-GE-129 29,400 lbf (131 kN) thrust engines. The DSTA (Defense Science & Technology Agency) conducted a detailed technical assessment, simulations, and other tests to assess the final selection. On 6 September 2005, it was announced that the F-15SG had won the contract over the Rafale. An initial order placed in 2005 for 12 aircraft with 8 options. On 22 October 2007, Singapore's Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) exercised the option to purchase eight more F-15SG fighters as part of the original contract signed in 2005. Along with this buy, an additional order for four F-15SGs was made, bringing the total number of F-15SGs purchased by the start of 2008 to 24.
In January 2005, it was announced that 6 Sikorsky S-70B (derivative of SH-60 Seahawk) naval helicopters will be purchased, complete with anti-surface and anti-submarine weapons and sensors. 2 more Seahawks were ordered in 2013. The Seahawks are operated by RSAF pilots, with System Specialists of the Republic of Singapore Navy operating the sensors and weaponry. They operate from the Navy's new Formidable class frigates, and when operating from land are based at Sembawang Air Base. All 20 AH-64D Longbow attack helicopters have been delivered to the RSAF. 12 of these were deployed back to Singapore and took part in combined arms exercises with the Army, with the remaining 8 helicopters being part of the Peace Vanguard detachment based in the United States.
In April 2007, it was announced that the 4 E-2C Hawkeyes were to be replaced with 4 Gulfstream G550s fitted with the IAI EL/W-2085 radar which would become the primary airborne early warning aircraft for the RSAF. Not included in the deal is an additional G550 as an AEW trainer, which will be acquired and maintained by ST Aerospace on behalf of RSAF.
In July 2010, the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master was selected by the RSAF to replace the A-4SU in the Advanced Jet Training (AJT) role, currently based at BA 120 Cazaux Air Base in France. In a press release by the MINDEF on 28 September 2008, ST Aerospace had been awarded the contract to acquire twelve M-346 and a ground based training system on behalf of RSAF. As stipulated in the contract, ST Aerospace will act as the main contractor to maintain the aircraft after delivery by Alenia Aermacchi while Boeing would supply the training system. Delivery date is scheduled from 2012 onwards.
The backbone of the transport fleet are the four KC-130B, one KC-130H and five C-130H Hercules transport aircraft, which are expected to remain in service through 2030, will be undergoing an extensive modernisation process to bring all ten existing airframes to the same common standard. The first airframe, a KC-130B, was returned to frontline service on 21 September 2010. ST Aerospace, the main contractor behind the project, is expected to upgrade the other nine airframes for the RSAF within the next seven years. Included in the package is the replacement of cockpit flight management system with a modern glass cockpit avionics suite, central engine displays to replace analogue gauges, improved voice communications, digital autopilot, flight director as well as a digital weather radar, which will make the aircraft Global Air Traffic Management-compliant. Also, the C-130Bs will receive an auxiliary power unit and environmental control system in common with the C-130Hs. Once the upgrade is completed, this will effectively give the RSAF five KC-130Hs and five C-130Hs.
In December 2010, the RSAF issued a letter of request to inspect stored ex-US Navy P-3C Orion aircraft that have been retired from active duty. Lockheed Martin believes the RSAF has a requirement of 4 to 5 of these aircraft, which would be modernised extensively before reintroduction into active service.
On 30 June 2018, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen announced that the F-16's replacement will be announced soon. Meanwhile, the KC-135Rs are being replaced by the A330 MRTT while replacements for other fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters are announced.
On 18 January 2019, MINDEF officially confirmed the procurement of F-35s for a full evaluation of their capabilities and suitability before deciding on a full fleet to replace the aging F-16 fleet. On 1 March 2019, MINDEF announced that they will send a Letter of Request(LOR) to purchase 4 F-35s with an option of 8 more after the evaluation. On 9 January 2020 the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency approved a possible sale to Singapore of four F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variants with the option to purchase an additional eight F-35Bs and up to 13 Pratt & Whitney F135 engines and other related equipment for an estimated cost of $2.750 billion
|F-15E Strike Eagle||United States||multirole||F-15SG||40|
|F-16 Fighting Falcon||United States||multirole||F-16C/D||60||Aircraft seen carrying Elbit Systems-made reconnaissance pods|
|F-35 Lightning II||United States||stealth multirole||F-35B||4 on order + 8 options|
|Gulfstream G550||United States||early warning and control||G550 AEW||4|
|Fokker 50||Netherlands||maritime patrol||5|
|KC-130 Hercules||United States||aerial refueling / transport||KC-130B/H||5|
|Airbus A330 MRTT||France||aerial refueling / transport||KC-30A||6|
|C-130 Hercules||United States||transport||C-130H||5|
|AH-64 Apache||United States||attack||AH-64D||20|
|Boeing CH-47||United States||transport / utility||CH-47SD/F||15||16 CH-47Fs on order|
|Sikorsky SH-60||United States||ASW / SAR||S-70B||8|
|Airbus H225||France||utility / transport||16 on order|
|Eurocopter AS332||France||utility / transport||32|
|Alenia M-346||Italy||primary trainer||12|
Previous aircraft operated by the Air Force consisted of the Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye, Hawker Hunter, BAC Strikemaster, BAC Jet Provost, Lockheed T-33, A-4 Skyhawk, A-4SU Super Skyhawk, Northrop F-5, Aérospatiale Alouette III, Bell 212, Bell UH-1H/B, the Aérospatiale AS350 helicopter, and the Boeing KC-135.
|AIM-120 C5/C7 AMRAAM||United States||beyond-visual-range missile||550 missiles obtained|
|AIM-9 Sidewinder J/P/S||United States||400 / 264 / 96|
|AIM-9X Sidewinder||United States||ASRAAM||200 missiles obtained|
|AIM-7 Sparrow||United States||AAM||400 missiles obtained|
|RAFAEL Python 4||Israel||AAM||600 missiles obtained|
|Air-to-surface missile Bombs|
|GBU-10/GBU-12/GBU-49/GBU-50||United States||Laser-guided bomb||68 / 140|
|CBU-105||United States||Unguided Bomb||Unknown|
|GBU-38/B JDAM||United States||GPS/INS Guided Bomb||700|
|GBU-39/B||United States||precision-guided glide bomb||20 (pending delivery)|
|GBU-54/B LJDAM||United States||Air to ground||Unknown|
|AGM-65B/D/G Maverick||United States||Air to ground||350|
|BGM-71 TOW||United States||Anti-armor||500|
|AGM-114 Hellfire||United States||Anti-armor||192|
|AGM-154A-1/C JSOW||United States||Air to ground||214|
|AGM-84 Harpoon||United States||44 missiles obtained|
|Aster 30||Italy / France||SAM system||12 launchers||600 missiles|
|Rafael SPYDER||Israel||SAM system||12 launchers||75 Python-5 / 75 Derby missiles|
|MIM-23 Hawk||United States||SAM system||4 systems||Being replaced by ASTER 30|
|MBDA Mistral||France||SAM system||600 missiles|
|Mechanised Igla||France||SAM system||300 missiles||tracked short-range system|
|RBS 70||Sweden||MANPADS||500 missiles|
|9K38 Igla||Soviet Union||MANPADS||640 missiles|
|Oerlikon 35 mm twin cannon||Switzerland||towed anti-aircraft gun||34||weapon is a self-propelled gun|
|Lockheed Martin AN/FPS-117||United States||Air search radar system||10|
|Lockheed Martin P-STAR||United States||20|
|Thales-Raytheon Groundmaster 200||France/United States|
|Elta Systems EL/M-2084||Israel|
|Tethered Aerostat Radar System||United States||Airborne ground surveillance system|
|Changi Air Base||Changi|
|Chong Pang Camp||Yishun||
|Murai Camp||Western Water Catchment|
|Paya Lebar Air Base||Paya Lebar|
|Sembawang Air Base||Yishun|
|Tengah Air Base||Tengah|
First formed in 1973 at Tengah Air Base, the Black Knights is RSAF's official aerobatic team and has been performing on an ad hoc basis since its inception, with volunteer pilots drawn from various front line squadrons within the RSAF. The aerobatics team has performed on events including the Singapore Airshow 2014.
The RSAF maintains the Air Force Museum, which was first located at Changi Air Base before it was relocated to a purpose-built building currently situated at 400 Airport Road, Singapore 534234 adjacent to Paya Lebar Air Base. The museum is open to the public and showcases the air force's history and capabilities. Exhibits include the Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye and numerous A-4SU Super Skyhawk.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force has loaned several aircraft, and aircraft parts to the tertiary institutions in Singapore, including Institute of Technical Education, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic, Nanyang Polytechnic and Nanyang Technological University since 2005. Aircraft includes the A-4SU Super Skyhawk.