Army Open House returns this weekend in celebration of 50 years of National Service

Soldiers running up the stairs and getting close to the audience during the Dynamic Defence Display show.
Soldiers running up the stairs and getting close to the audience during the Dynamic Defence Display show.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - After a five-year hiatus, the Army Open House will return with a bang this weekend, and its organisers have promised visitors a fun and immersive showcase of the latest army vehicles, weaponry and capabilities.

With the theme "Army Ready, Soldier Strong", the event at the F1 Pit will - for the first time - offer the public a flavour of the army's physical training routines, through a specially-designed obstacle course.

To commemorate 50 years of National Service (NS) this year, an NS50 showcase will also chart the evolution of NS and recognise the contributions of National Servicemen, through videos, interactive displays and augmented reality technology.

The Army Open House, organised on an ad-hoc basis, was last held in 2012 at the same venue.

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As part of its ongoing public engagement, the Army has also held exhibitions in Tampines and Jurong East in 2014, and in Serangoon Nex and Toa Payoh Hub last year (2016).

Explaining the significance of the upcoming open house, Brigadier-General Chua Boon Keat, chairman of the Army Open House Exco, said on Tuesday (May 23) during a media briefing: "This is a special year. Singapore commemorates 50 years of National Service... We want to share the strength of the army with the public.

 

"We want to take this opportunity to honour our NSmen, both past and present, for their contributions and sacrifices made in defending the country."

After it kicks off at the F1 Pit on Saturday and Sunday (9am to 8pm daily), the open house will be moved to the heartlands, in Punggol (June 2 to 4, 10am to 10pm daily), and Jurong East (June 9 to 11, 10am to 10pm daily).

The city leg of the open house is expected to attract about 200,000 visitors, and close to 20,000 are expected to turn up at each of the heartland events.

The F1 Pit will include a "Dynamic Defence Display", which will showcase the Army's tanks, troop carriers, and its latest Belrex Protected Combat Support Vehicle, which was only commissioned late last year.

During the 30-minute show, held twice each day during the weekend, the Red Lions free-fall team and the Special Operations Task Force will also parachute into the venue.

Visitors can also take rides in four Army vehicles, including the Terrex and Peacekeeper Protected Response Vehicle (PRV), or sail down the waters of Marina Bay on the M3G military raft.

Due to space constraints, however, the open houses held at Jurong East and Punggol will not have a dynamic display or vehicle rides.

About 3,300 soldiers comprising full-time national servicemen, regulars, and operationally-ready NSmen are involved in organising the Army Open House.

One of them is Corporal Mohamed Nur'ilyas Mohd Jasman, 21. He will be driving the Peacekeeper PRV and taking visitors on a 10-min ride, navigating a hump and an S-shaped course.

He said: "I hope they can experience that the vehicle is not only comfortable on the inside, but it can overcome harsh terrains like the outfield and bumpy roads."