SINGAPORE: Six Republic of Singapore Air Force F-15SG fighter jets will fly over Singapore’s heartlands in a first for the National Day Parade (NDP) on Aug 9.
The parade segment, called the Roar of Unity, will be flying into the Padang, before making a series of tribute passes around eight hospitals and the rest of Singapore.
Likening the sound of the fighter aircrafts flying overhead to a “roar”, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Tan Boon Hong said that Singaporeans will be able to hear it from their homes as they watch the “live” broadcast.
He was speaking in a media briefing at Payar Lebar Air Base on Thursday (Jul 23).
This year’s NDP, under the theme Together, A Stronger Singapore, will be broadcasted remotely due to COVID-19 measures.
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“For previous years, our main focus was at the show centre, be it the Floating Platform or the Padang. We would plan for the fighters to come into the show centre and subsequently do the traditional bomb burst, which is a crowd favourite,” said LTC Tan, who is the Flying Display Marshall of NDP 2020.
“However for this year, Singaporeans will not not be able to be at the show centre to watch this segment and we want to bring this to them at their homes.”
The tribute pass to the hospitals is also a “salute” for the frontline workers’ “resilience, dedication and sacrifice”.
“We want to use the Roar of Unity to pay tribute to the frontline fighters in this COVID-19 pandemic, and also to the essential workers that are keeping our economy and our Singapore going in this period,” LTC Tan added.
THE LONGEST FLYPAST IN HISTORY
The F-15SG fighter jets will cover 170 nautical miles for a duration of 30 minutes - all while maintaining its delta formation for its entire route.
“The route will coincide with the parade proceedings in the morning at the Padang and subsequently flow seamlessly from the parade, over Singapore,” said LTC Tan.
The jets will be making four passes in total - the first to hospitals, starting with Tan Tock Seng Hospital and ending at Singapore General Hospital.
Flying at a height of 1,500 to 2,000 feet, they will then make three passes around the rest of Singapore, to ensure that “all the heartlands” are covered, LTC Tan added.
“Regardless of where they are going to fly, it covers the majority of Singapore at the height where everyone should be able to see and hear them from their house.”
The flypast will begin at the Padang at 10.45am and will end at Paya Lebar Airbase at 11.15am. This will be the longest route and the longest time a formation is maintained during a NDP.
“Normally the F-15s and fighters that participate in NDP just cumulate ... at the show centre,” LTC Tan explained.
“This is the longest route that the fighter air crew will be flying and it's the longest (duration) that this formation has to fly to maintain in a relatively tight formation for NDP.”
For Lieutenant Shidan Swah Yepeng, who is the most junior pilot in the six-ship formation, the flyover is exceptionally meaningful to him as his parents are both working in the healthcare industry.
“I've seen the amount of work put in by them and everyone in the industry. This is like a personal salute to them and a tribute for all the hard work they’ve put in,” he said.
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ENSURING THE SAFETY OF CREW AND SINGAPOREANS
To pull off this special flypast, the aircrew also has to overcome a new set of challenges - including staying in formation for the entire route, safety precautions and weather.
Flying at close to 600kmh, the six jets would have to maintain a wingtip-to-wingtip distance of two to three metres as they make numerous turns in their route.
“Imagine you're driving a car constantly looking in the same direction for 30 minutes at high speed, while trying to avoid hitting your wingmen,” said Captain (CPT) Adam Eng, a weapon systems officer flying the F-15SG.
“That requires a lot of concentration and finesse to achieve that.”
CPT Eng added that the “unpredictable weather in Singapore” may also compromise the integrity of the six-ship delta formation. “It plays with your senses because you are not able to see where the horizon is.”
Should the weather conditions be unfavourable on National Day, LTC Tan said that the jets “might have to deviate the route”.
The main challenge however, is ensuring the safety of the air crew and the populace, said LTC Tan.
“We’ve had to work very closely with our Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore counterparts to carve up the necessary airspace and to enforce the temporary restricted areas against unauthorised aerial activities so that our air crew is able to safely execute the maneuvers over the heartlands,” he said.
Captain Daniel Heng, the NDP airspace management coordinator added: “Singapore has very limited air space and we have a lot of different entities. For example, we have Changi airport, Seletar Airport and different military bases.”
“In order to accommodate everyone, we had to ensure that adequate air space is obtained timely from the respective agencies.”