High-speed spectacular at NDP 2012 for NS tribute

NDP act will ramp up difficulty level for performers across air, sea, land

It will be one heart-stopping moment after another for spectators - if not for the performers too - at this year's National Day Parade (NDP).

Fighter jets will criss-cross each other, boats will charge at high speed towards the stands and more than 2,000 parade participants will advance towards spectators in unison in a new 10-minute segment.

Ramping up the difficulty level for performers across air, sea and land is a way of paying tribute to the more than 900,000 men who have gone through national service in the last 45 years.

In past parades, the crowds enjoyed the feu de joie, or rifle tribute, which closes the parade segment, but this year, that will be followed by all 32 contingents marching 10 steps forward, and then saluting national servicemen past and present.

The high-speed boats zipping across Marina Bay will be a pair of Police Coast Guard interceptor craft, flanked by four Republic of Singapore Navy Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs), firing blanks. Sirens will wail as the interceptors perform sharp turns just metres from the floating platform.

The RHIBs will create heart- shaped waves in their wake, then race towards the audience at top speed. They will then pull to an abrupt stop, causing their bows to dip forward in a sea salute, and sending columns of water into the air.

As the boats exit, four F-16D Block 52+ jets will fly in from behind the Marina Bay Sands convention centre in formation. As they near the platform, the two pairs of aircraft will cross each other's flight paths.

Two more jets will then emerge and soar through the air, leaving a V-shaped smoke trail.

A single F-15SG will then perform a move straight out of Hollywood dogfight movies - a sharp bank that will tilt it 90 degrees. It will then fly in an arc around the towers of the Marina Bay Sands before zooming over Suntec City.

Ending the display, two more F-15SGs will go into a vertical climb to about 3,000m and disappear into the heavens, leaving behind the roar from their afterburners.

Colonel Francis Ngooi, who chairs the air-participation committee, said it will be the first time these four air manoeuvres will be carried out over Marina Bay, which gives the pilots airspace about a quarter of that in a typical combat mission.

Captain Alvin Leow, 29, a first-time NDP participant who will fly an F-15SG in the vertical climb, is shooting for a visual spectacular. He said: 'We do get used to the tall buildings and we have integrated rehearsals before the actual day.'

yanliang@sph.com.sg