Road turned into runway for Singapore fighter jets

Lim Chu Kang Road roared to life as fighter jets from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) took off down the converted road in Exercise Torrent 2016. The exercise is conducted to ensure personnel are prepared to convert the road into a runway.

Exercise Torrent demonstrates RSAF's capability to swiftly assemble air power to counter any threat

Fighter jets roared down Lim Chu Kang Road and into the skies yesterday morning as part of the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) Exercise Torrent.

The road had been converted into a runway in 48 hours, for the exercise, which demonstrated the RSAF's capability to swiftly assemble air power to counter any threat.

"Because Singapore is a small country, we must always protect our airspace," said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who spoke to reporters after the event. "It shows that we can convert a highway to an airstrip and it gives us a lot of confidence that we'll be able to protect our skies under all conditions."

The exercise saw 12 fighter jets taking off and landing across four runways - Lim Chu Kang Road and three others in Tengah Airbase - in quick succession.

In the days leading up to the exercise, the road's bus stops and lamp posts were temporarily removed to make way for portable airfield lights and a mobile air control tower.

Specialised road sweepers combed the 2.5km stretch to pick up debris left by the heavy vehicles that normally ply the road, and loud flares were fired to scare away birds that could pose a hazard to the aircraft.

An F-15SG fighter jet landing on Lim Chu Kang Road during the RSAF's Exercise Torrent yesterday morning. It was the first time that the new F-15SG aircraft, which can go up to 2.5 times the speed of sound, were taking part in the exercise.
An F-15SG fighter jet landing on Lim Chu Kang Road during the RSAF's Exercise Torrent yesterday morning. It was the first time that the new F-15SG aircraft, which can go up to 2.5 times the speed of sound, were taking part in the exercise. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Yesterday was the seventh time that Exercise Torrent has been held since 1986, but it was the first time that the new F-15SG fighters have taken part. These aircraft go up to 2.5 times the speed of sound, and are among the world's most advanced. In total, the effort involved around 1,000 regulars, operationally ready national servicemen and full-time national servicemen.

Observers at yesterday's event - including MPs and officers from defence agencies around the world - were also given a demonstration of how an aircraft experiencing brake failure might land.

Mr Vikram Nair, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Foreign Affairs, said that Exercise Torrent showed how quickly Singapore is able to convert a road into an alternative runway.

"It's important because it allows more aircraft to take off and land as the situation calls for," he said.

"The air force is a very important part of force projection if ever the need arises, so I think it's important for Singapore to always be ready to rise to the occasion if ever called to do so."

Yesterday also marked the end of Exercise Semangat Bersatu, a joint military exercise between Singapore and Malaysia.

The exercise, which was first conducted in 1989, was held in Kluang, Johor, this year. It involved around 980 soldiers from both sides.

The closing ceremony was presided over by Brigadier-General Desmond Tan, Chief of Staff-General Staff of the Singapore Army, and Lieutenant-General Ahmad Hasbullah Mohd Nawawi, Deputy Chief of Army of the Malaysian Armed Forces.

Video:
Fighter jets take off and land on Lim Chu Kang Road http://str.sg/4gHT

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2016, with the headline 'Road turned into runway for S'pore fighter jets'. Print Edition | Subscribe