RSAF will be getting new helicopter fleet

An Airbus H225M helicopter. Mindef says it is buying the same type of copter, as well as the CH-47F from Boeing.
An Airbus H225M helicopter. Mindef says it is buying the same type of copter, as well as the CH-47F from Boeing.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) has awarded contracts for new Super Puma and Chinook helicopters to be delivered from 2020 onwards.

Although no numbers or costs were given, Mindef said the new H225M medium lift helicopter and CH-47F heavy lift helicopter - from Airbus Helicopters and Boeing respectively - will replace the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF's) existing fleet.

The older Super Pumas have been in service since 1983, and older Chinooks since 1994.

Mindef said in a statement yesterday that the older helicopters are "facing obsolescence" and will be progressively drawn down.

It added: "The H225M and CH-47F possess better lift and reach capabilities, and will enable the RSAF to meet the Singapore Armed Forces' lift requirements more efficiently with fewer helicopters and less manpower."

The craft will be used in operations like search and rescue, aeromedical evacuation, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Mindef said: "The H225M has an approximately 20 per cent longer range compared to the Super Pumas, and will provide operational flexibility with its manoeuvrability and small landing footprint... the maintenance regime of the H225M is also simplified and requires less manpower support.

"The new CH-47F, on the other hand, has more advanced avionics and capabilities such as an enhanced self-protection capability and satellite communication systems to enable it to be more survivable and better connected."

According to a Reuters report in June, Singapore had been trying to replace 32 Super Pumas that had an average age of 27 years.

But the US$1 billion (S$1.38 billion) deal with Airbus Helicopters, a subsidiary of Airbus Group, was delayed after an April 29 crash of its civilian version, the H225, in Norway.

Yesterday, Mindef said the replacement aircraft "were selected after a rigorous evaluation".

Kok Xing Hui

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2016, with the headline 'RSAF will be getting new helicopter fleet'. Print Edition | Subscribe