RSAF fighter squadrons display their capabilities

PHOTO: The New Paper

The ground exploded in a hail of gunfire as an F-15SG screamed past.

But this was not a war zone.

The targets were large banners with the traditional black and red bull's eye.

Just a few metres away were large 60m-wide circles made of old tyres.

These were the bomb courts.

An explosion followed by a plume of white smoke signalled that the practice bomb from an F-16 had hit the centre with deadly accuracy.

On Wednesday, Pulau Pawai, which is usually closed to civilians, was opened to the media for the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) biennial Hotshot Challenge.

Held every two years, this year's competition, which runs until Feb 3, is designed for RSAF's fighter squadrons to test their operational and logistical capabilities.

From a safe position - on a hill about 500m from the target area - the assembled media were given a loud display of fighter planes testing their accuracy during strafing and bombing runs.


Four squadrons - 140, 143, 145 and 149 - with a combined personnel of 131 RSAF regulars, NSFs and NSmen took up the challenge.

While they're the most spectacular part, bombs and gunfire are not the only aspect that squadrons are tested on.

Other essential areas covered are weapon loading, precision marshalling and creative marshalling.

In the latter, what may look like elaborate dance moves are actually a test of effective visual communication.

Together, these individual challenges form the whole of what the squadron has to achieve.

Colonel Linus Tan, 43, Commander Fighter Group, emphasised that while impressive, exploding ordinance was not the thrust of the challenge.

"We want them to get the fundamentals correct," he said.

"These challenges provide an excellent opportunity to better appreciate each other's roles to achieve mission success."

This article was first published on January 29, 2016.
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