SINGAPORE - To pay tribute to front-line and essential workers giving their all amid the Covid-19 pandemic, six F-15 fighter jets will be soaring over the heartland as part of this year's National Day Parade (NDP).
The fighter jets will be performing the Roar Of Unity, a 30-minute long segment that will see the planes cover the island so that every Singaporean will be able to see and hear them from their homes.
The well-loved aerial display will make its entrance at 10.45am on Aug 9 at the Padang, where the morning parade will take place.
Flying in a tight Delta formation shaped like an arrowhead, they will fly past eight hospitals - Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Sengkang General Hospital, Changi General Hospital, Khoo Teck Puat General Hospital, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, National University Hospital, Alexandra Hospital and Singapore General Hospital.
They will then make three passes around the heartland before returning to Paya Lebar Air Base at around 11.15am.
"The Roar Of Unity signifies the nation is remaining united as we celebrate National Day," said Lieutenant-Colonel Tan Boon Hong, who is deputy chairman of air participation and flying display marshal.
"We want to give tribute to our front-line fighters and essential workers that keep us going during this period and we salute them for their resilience, dedication and sacrifice," added Lt-Col Tan, 46.
At 170 nautical miles, this will be the longest route for a fighter jet segment during a National Day celebration, as the fly-past is usually localised to where the parade is, such as the Padang or the Float @ Marina Bay.
It is a special segment for Lieutenant Shidan Swah Yepeng, 26, who is taking part in his first NDP and is the youngest pilot in the formation.
He will be paying particular tribute to his parents, both 58, who have each been stalwarts in the healthcare industry for more than 30 years.
His father is a senior consultant at a polyclinic, while his mother is seconded from the National Healthcare Group to the Singapore Nursing Board as an executive secretary. They were also involved in the fight against severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) in 2003.
"It's quite meaningful to me that I'm able to overfly (Tan Tock Seng Hospital)," added Lt Swah, who has fond childhood memories of afternoons accompanying his mother who spent much of her career there.
It will also be the first time in an NDP for Weapon Systems Officer (Fighter) Adam Eng Jun Chao, 29.
One of the challenges of this year's route is its length, said Captain Eng, as it requires a lot of concentration and finesse to be manoeuvring at such fast speeds and in close proximity to the other planes.
There is about a 2m to 3m gap between wingtips of each plane in the Delta formation as they fly at close to 600kmh.
Another challenge is bad weather. "Weather will compromise the integrity of the six-ship Delta formation... (It) kind of plays with your senses because you are now not able to visually see where the horizon is," said Cpt Eng.
The jets will be flying at a height of 1,500ft to 2,000ft, though there is a buffer of 500ft up to 2,500ft in case of adverse weather.
Maintaining smooth control of the airspaces above Singapore is also key, as the fighter jets will be going around the heartland, sharing the airspace with the six helicopters that will be bringing the state flag around.
Cpt Daniel Heng Jing Xing, 26, will be on the team helping to maintain the peace as an air traffic controller located at the Singapore Air Traffic Control Centre.
"Our role as the main controller is to obtain the airspaces (in a timely manner) so that once we have the airspace our fighters can operate safely throughout," he said.