SAF special ops troopers fast rope off helicopters at F1 pit building in counter-terrorism exercise
The silence outside the F1 pit building past 9pm on Monday (Aug 2) betrayed what was going on inside, where a “hostage situation” was supposedly brewing.
SINGAPORE: The silence outside the F1 pit building past 9pm on Monday (Aug 2) betrayed what was going on inside, where a “hostage situation” was supposedly brewing.
There were no police sirens, parked ambulances or heavy barricades. It looked to be a normal evening, until two blacked-out helicopters swooped in.
In the dark of the night, it was difficult to see the two Super Puma helicopters from the Republic of Singapore Air Force.
Their lights were switched off for added stealth, while their rotor noise was muffled enough that they arrived almost unannounced.
One of the helicopters hovered close to the building, about three storeys high, and dropped a thick rope onto a deck. The second helicopter waited over the water, facing away from the mission area.
From reporters’ distant vantage point atop the Benjamin Sheares bridge, it was impossible to clearly see the shadowy figures that descended.
The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said in a statement on Monday that this was part of a counter-terrorism exercise involving a simulated hostage scenario.
The exercise was led by the Singapore Armed Forces’ Special Operations Task Force (SOTF), with personnel from the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Explosives Defence Group and the Medical Response Force.
The SOTF comprises elite soldiers from the Army's Commandos and the Navy's Naval Diving Unit. They can use assets from across the SAF for complex missions, including taking down terrorists and rescuing hostages.
After the first helicopter had unloaded its personnel, it executed a sharp left turn and swapped places with the second helicopter.
Another swift roping operation later and off went the two choppers.
Reporters were not allowed to see what went on inside the pit building, where troopers responded to the hostage situation and “swiftly” neutralised threats, MINDEF said.
MINDEF said the exercise is designed to strengthen the SAF’s response to terrorism threats and related incidents.
Counter-terrorism exercises in urban settings allow the SAF to train effectively and realistically to strengthen its capabilities in homeland security operations, the ministry explained.
“The realistic training setting tested the SAF’s operational readiness and the exercise was conducted with high precision,” it said.
“The SAF continues to train and conduct exercises regularly to ensure that it remains operationally ready to safeguard Singapore’s sovereignty and security.
“The SAF stands ready to deal with a spectrum of threats to defend Singapore and our way of life, even amidst the COVID-19 situation.”