On the morning of 1 September, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)’s 50th Anniversary celebrations culminated in a grand RSAF Day Golden Jubilee Parade, held at Tengah Air Base. With the theme “Honouring the Past, Celebrating the Present and Inspiring the Future”, the parade featured contingents from the various commands, a 10-vehicle mobile column, a 20-asset static display, and a flypast of 20 RSAF aircraft. A key highlight of the event was the first public appearance of the RSAF’s newly acquired Airbus A330 MRTT (Multi-Role Tanker Transport) aircraft. The parade also commemorated the past five decades of the RSAF’s commitment to safeguard our skies.
Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong was the guest of honour and officiated the parade attended by about 1,400 guests, including the Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, Senior Minister of State for Defence Mr Heng Chee How, Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong, ASEAN Air Force Chiefs, Defence Attachés, senior Singapore Armed Forces officers, and RSAF servicemen and women.
At the conclusion of the flypast, PM Lee visited the Legacy Systems Display where he interacted with RSAF pioneers who were involved with the old RSAF platforms, and unveiled the RSAF50 Commemorative Mural, a 10m by 4m mural made up of 50,000 photographs contributed by members of the public since February, when the RSAF50 celebrations begun at the RSAF50@Singapore Airshow. PM Lee then concluded his time by touring and being briefed on the capabilities of the A330 MRTT.
In his speech, Chief of Air Force Major-General (MG) Mervyn Tan paid tribute to the RSAF pioneers who had setup the Singapore Air Defence Command (SADC) and been integral in its transformation to the RSAF of today. “Much of the credit of the RSAF’s transformation goes to our air force pioneers, many of whom are here with us this morning. They overcame many challenges and built up the credible and effective air force with modest resources, and that was not easy. Without their dedicated service and commitment, our air force would not be where it is today. So on this occasion, I would like to thank the generations of airmen and women, who have served with committment and pride to build our RSAF.”
“Because of their sacrifices, and the successes of the men and women who came before us, the RSAF today can welcome the future from a position of strength, and with confidence and optimism of even greater things to come. Indeed in the coming years, we will continue our journey of transformation to create the next generation RSAF. We will make changes that will allow us to overcome evolving threats and future challenges to better safeguard Singapore’s skies,” said MG Tan.
Pointing out the important role of the RSAF airmen and women in the transformation process, he said, “But driving these changes and transformation are the timeless fundemental building block of our air force, our most critical asset – our people. These are the competent and professional airmen and women, who when put together, will form a formidable team to achieve mission success for the RSAF. And if our people are the building block of the air force, then the content of their character form the bedrock of our success.”
“Today, the RSAF is a professional, well-trained and well-equipped air force. We exercise with partners all over the world, including our friends in the Five Power Defence Arrangements, and ASEAN, France and the US. For example, the RSAF participates in the annual Exercise Red Flag-Nellis with the US Air Force at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. We carry out Exercise Bersama Lima, a joint exercise with the air, naval and land forces of the FPDA. We do Exercise Elang Indopura with Indonesia’s Air Force, the TNI-AU. We take these exercises seriously. We do our best to bring value, and at the same time to learn from our partners,” said PM Lee of the RSAF’s ongoing training to maintain its edge, in his speech.
He also singled out the RSAF’s role in showcasing its readiness and capability during the recent North Korea-United States Summit in Singapore. “The RSAF showed the world during the Summit that you are operationally ready. You were tasked to defend our skies by forming a protective ‘dome’ over Singapore. You had at any one time, more than 20 aircraft in the air or ready to take off at a moment’s notice; there were more than 10 ground-based air defence systems standing guard, and unmanned aerial vehicles on standby, and some flying. This was a live operation, not a dry exercise. It was a complex task which required close coordination with the SAF, with the Home Team, and foreign aircraft and assets too – in the military jargon, it was both a joint and a combined operation. We only had two weeks to prepare for it. Many of you had to cancel leave plans and forfeit vacation bookings. But you stepped up to the challenge, and showed Singapore and the world your capabilities and dedication.”
He concluded by saying, “Over the last 50 years, the RSAF has helped to keep the peace, and has done well. Ultimately, the RSAF’s success is not measured by the number of battles it has won, but by the peace that you have guarded and maintained – day in, day out, year after year. Because every day of peace that Singapore enjoys is a testament to the effectiveness of our deterrence, our diplomacy, and our defence.”
The MAphotoSG team congratulates the RSAF on their Golden Jubilee in 2018, and also would like to express our sincerest thanks and appreciation to the RSAF, especially the AFIC Team, for their support and help in enabling us to cover the the RSAF50 celebration events over the last nine months.