Military mobile column returns to NDP 2019 to showcase new assets, pay tribute to Merdeka Generation

The new Hunter Armoured Fighting Vehicle, Singapore's first fully digital military vehicle, will make its NDP debut on Aug 9.
The new Hunter Armoured Fighting Vehicle, Singapore's first fully digital military vehicle, will make its NDP debut on Aug 9.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A total of 171 military assets will trundle past the Padang at this year's National Day Parade (NDP) as the mobile column, a military vehicle drivepast to showcase Singapore's strength, makes its return after four years.

There are 79 types of assets on display this year from across the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), the Singapore Police Force and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

They include three units of the new Hunter Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV), Singapore's first fully digital military vehicle, which will make its NDP debut on Aug 9.

The surface-to-air ASTER-30 Missile System from the Republic of Singapore Air Force will also be featured for the first time.

"The mobile column has a strong historical significance. The first mobile column rolled down the Padang in 1969," Lieutenant-Colonel Wu Jianmin, chairman of the mobile column committee, said at a media briefing on Saturday (June 29).

"To be able to do so just four years after Singapore gained independence was no easy feat. It was in large part due to the hard work and effort of the pioneering batches of our servicemen."

As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the mobile column, there will be a segment paying tribute to Merdeka Generation servicemen who helped anchor national service as a key national institution.

"Their dreams and hopes have brought the SAF and the Home Team to where we are today," LTC Wu said.

 
 
 
 

One such serviceman is retired Captain Loh Kwan Boh, 63, who was from one of the first few batches of servicemen at 40 Singapore Armour Regiment where he was trained to operate the AMX-13 tank.

It will be his first time taking part in the mobile column for NDP and it will be especially meaningful for him, as he will be doing so with his son, who is the vehicle commander of one of the three Hunter AFVs.

"I exposed him, as a young boy, to the SAF. Every open house, I would bring him there, and every air show too," he said. "I'm very proud that he is also a tank officer like me."

Capt Charles Loh, 26, the only son and the youngest of three children, said he and his father often share their experiences and values like leadership.

When asked if he had considered signing on to other formations in the SAF, he said: "It was always Armour from the beginning, particularly because of my dad's influence. I grew an interest in Armour platforms in general. Once I got into (Officer Cadet School), I felt that Armour was the right choice."

Also taking part in the mobile column is retired brigadier-general Colin Theseira, 74, who is part of the Pioneer Generation.

The former chief Armour officer was among the first batch of national servicemen to enlist in 1966, and took part in the first mobile column in 1969.

"When we first started, at the beginning of the Armour formation, there were no crew men, just 36 officers. We were the drivers, gunners and commanders in the tank and we had to do many things by ourselves," he said.

To bring the NDP to the masses, the mobile column will be travelling to various heartland sites on Aug 10.

These are Bishan, Geylang Serai, Jurong East, Punggol and Woodlands, where there will also be celebratory carnivals organised by the People's Association.