RSAF units compete to defend nation's airspace

Senior Minister of State for Defence Mohamad Maliki Osman gets a feel of the RBS-70 missile system. Dr Maliki visited the Safti Live Firing Area yesterday, where RSAF's Ground-Based Air Defence units were competing against each other in the annual Fl
Senior Minister of State for Defence Mohamad Maliki Osman gets a feel of the RBS-70 missile system. Dr Maliki visited the Safti Live Firing Area yesterday, where RSAF's Ground-Based Air Defence units were competing against each other in the annual Flaming Arrow Challenge.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

A Super Puma helicopter flies low over the Safti Live Firing Area in western Singapore, hugging the treetops to evade detection.

On the ground, soldiers manning the laser-guided RBS-70 missile system try to "shoot down" the helicopter, in a deadly cat-and- mouse game.

The Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) Ground-Based Air Defence (GBAD) units put their skills in defending the Republic's airspace to the test yesterday, as part of an annual competition.

Eight RSAF units are vying to be the best outfit in the Flaming Arrow Challenge, held from Jan 9 till tomorrow.

They are evaluated based on six aspects - from their ability to engage enemy aircraft to staying undetected in the jungle with camouflage.

Senior Minister of State for Defence Mohamad Maliki Osman visited the exercise venue yesterday, where he was shown how a Super Puma executed evasive flight manoeuvres, and given a rundown on GBAD weapons.

Dr Maliki said: "Our GBAD units play an important role in protecting Singapore's skies 24/7, so that Singaporeans can go on with their daily lives, with the assurance that they are safe and secure."

The Flaming Arrow Challenge, now in its fourth year, has 132 personnel from eight units taking part this time.

Colonel Alvin Yeo, commander of the Divisional Air Defence Group, said that the competition provides a rich training scenario, featuring uncertainty and complexity.

It also allows the GBAD units to test their skills and tactics.

Flaming Arrow is part of the larger annual RSAF Command Challenge, which sees different units - such as fighters, air transport, and unmanned aerial vehicles - competing against one another.


Correction note:
In an earlier version of the story, we said there are eight GBAD units taking part in the competition This is incorrect. Six of the units are GBAD, and two are air engineering and logistics squadrons.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2017, with the headline 'RSAF units compete to defend nation's airspace'. Print Edition | Subscribe