SINGAPORE: In a first, the signature bomb burst manoeuvre at the National Day Parade (NDP) aerial fly-past will feature two operationally ready national servicemen.
It's to recognise 50 years of national service, which Singapore is marking this year. The other pilots are regulars from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).
Also for the first time in the history of NDP, the bomb burst manoeuvre will be performed by five F-15SG fighter jets, one of the most advanced variants of the F-15 strike aircraft. In previous years, F-16 jets were used instead.
The decision to use a different aircraft this year is a way to showcase the air force's fighter assets, said the RSAF.
The bomb burst manoeuvre involves the jets breaking away in different directions and the challenge is to ensure that the audience is able to see the formation well.
"Unlike a formation where we only need to worry about the position relative to one another, we also have to worry about how the audience view the formation from the ground," explained Senior Lieutenant-Colonel Goh Sim Aik, who is the mission lead of the NDP 2017 aerial salute.
"Hence it’s important for us to have video recording of our rehearsals all the time to see what must be adjusted.”
Timing, too, is crucial. "You’re talking about plus minus three seconds to be at the show centre and that requires a lot of finessing in terms of the flying the speed as well as flying the track to the show centre,” SLTC Goh added.
One of the NSmen pilots, Captain (NS) Valent Tan, said he was honoured to have been selected to be part of the team.
“For my full-time job actually I work as a consultant," he said. "So in terms of juggling family, work commitment in terms of training, initially there were definitely some hiccups here and there."
"But I thank my family, my wife, and my colleagues at work for recognising my participation in this year’s NDP and for picking up some of the slack at home or at work when I have to go for my training.”