New RSAF tanker aircraft to make debut at National Day Parade

Republic of Singapore Air Force Captain Teo Yi Quan (left) and Staff Sergeant Chan Chee Jie with the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft.
Republic of Singapore Air Force Captain Teo Yi Quan (left) and Staff Sergeant Chan Chee Jie with the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft.ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY

SINGAPORE - When Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Captain Teo Yi Quan soars across the sky above the Padang in an A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft at the upcoming National Day Parade (NDP), his wife and son will be watching.

The 30-year-old transport pilot is helming one of the four components in the NDP's Air Participation segment this year.

The NDP 2019 executive committee revealed details of the air participation on Saturday (June 15).

This is the first year that the MRTT aircraft, which is capable of conducting air-to-air refuelling and airlift roles, is making an appearance at the parade. They were delivered last year to replace the previously used KC-135 aerial tankers.

It will be flying past the Padang from the Marina Bay Financial Centre to Esplanade accompanied by two F-15SG fighter jets in an arrowhead formation.

This is Capt Teo's second NDP involvement. He is one of three pilots on the tanker.

"The last time I participated in NDP in 2015, my fiancee was very supportive and saw the show. Now she's my wife and we have a nine-month-old son and they will be going to see the show," he said.

Staff Sergeant Chan Chee Jie, 27, will be up in the skies with Capt Teo as an air-refuelling operator, whose job is to ensure the weight and balance of the aircraft for safety and to act as an extra pair of eyes and ears in-flight.

He is participating in the fly-past for the first time, having been on overseas duty during the NDP period in the past four years.

"I feel excited, this is a new platform and it's special being the pioneer batch of the MRTT crew," said Staff Sgt Chan.

Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Chiam Toon Chiang, chairman of Air Participation this year, said that while the RSAF is used to operating different aircraft, air space at the Padang is smaller than that at the floating platform, where the NDP was held in the last three years.

The 43-year-old explained: "It makes it more challenging for the pilots as they run in for their manoeuvres because the tolerance for error is just that much tighter, and they have to get it right the first time."


Other components of the air participation include the state flag flypast comprising one CH-47D Chinook helicopter and two escorting AH-64D Apache helicopters; a salute to the nation, performed by five F-15SG fighter jets in a bomb burst formation; and an aerial display with two F-15SG fighter jets performing a Shackle manoeuvre - flying parallel before crossing paths mid-air - and one performing a high-G turn and vertical climb.

Major Arumugam Sivaraj, 32, will be performing the high G-turn and vertical climb at the NDP for the first time, although it is his third NDP. He will also be acting as deputy flight lead for the nation salute.

Said Maj Arumugam of his role: "The manoeuvre is not the most challenging part. It's the timing and coordination with the other aircraft to ensure a good show for Singaporeans - that's more challenging."