Singapore Airshow 2016

RSAF flying team set to thrill at Singapore Airshow

Ace pilots from around the world are set to wow the crowd at the Singapore Airshow next week with their aerobatic hijinks.

Seven flying display teams - including one from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), and South Korea's Black Eagles - will perform aerial stunts just off the waters of Changi Exhibition Centre.

The biennial Singapore Airshow will be held there from Feb 16 to 21, with the final two days open to the public. On those days, the 40-minute aerobatic show will begin at 10.30am on Feb 20 and 2.20pm on Feb 21.

An RSAF AH-64D Apache attack helicopter and F-15SG fighter jet will perform 11 manoeuvres during their 12-minute display. They will be debuting a never-before-seen move called the Vertical Punch, which will involve the Apache helicopter flying a loop as the F-15SG passes it and punches upward in a vertical climb.

This is the first time the two kinds of aircraft will be paired for the Singapore show, said RSAF Flying Display Committee chairman Linus Tan. In the Singapore Airshow in 2010, an Apache helicopter performed with an F-16.

"Compared to the F-16, the F-15 has twin engines and is a much larger platform, so the jet wake that the fighter creates is much larger, especially so when you use the afterburners," said Colonel Tan.

The jet wake, or vortex of turbulent air, can cause the Apache helicopter to lose altitude if the jet passes too close. "Since the helicopter is flying so close to the ground, every height loss is critical to flight safety," he said, adding that the Apache will perform about 60m to 90m above the ground.

Apache pilot Spencer Ler, 37, said coordination was key as both war machines travel at different speeds - the F-15SG zooms by at 740kmh, while the Apache travels at 220kmh. "To bring both platforms to the show centre at a precise time and point in space requires a lot of backend coordination," said Major Ler.

Major Ler and the F-15SG pilot, Major Max Ng, 35, are in constant radio communication as they check their positions with each other.

The RSAF team has been training two to three times a week since it was formed two months ago.

They will join the Black Eagles from South Korea next week. The Black Eagles - the only full aerobatics team at the airshow - arrived in Singapore on Wednesday.

According to The Korea Times, the Eagles will be flying nine T-50B jets and three C-130 transport aircraft. This is the second time the team will be performing here.

They have added three new manoeuvres to the 20-minute show they performed in 2014.

Correction note: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong name for Major Max Ng. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2016, with the headline 'RSAF flying team set to thrill at S'pore Airshow'. Print Edition | Subscribe