Over the weekend, Singapore held an expected Golden Jubilee parade for its air force. The development, which was just the latest in a series of commemorative activities for the 50th anniversary of the service, spotlighted the recent developments within the country’s security landscape and how it views its role in the wider region.
As I have noted before in these pages, Singapore officially dates the genesis of the RSAF back to what was the Singapore Air Defense Command (SADC) in 1968, before the RSAF itself was formally inaugurated in April 1, 1975 as the first assets were brought into service and the city-state began developing partnerships with other key countries (See: “Singapore’s Air Force at 50“). Since then, Singapore has built up one of the most capable air forces in the region and has continued to further develop its capabilities, with the objective since the mid-2000s focused on transforming it into what is termed the 3rd Generation RSAF, part of a broader effort within the Singapore military to a fully networked and integrated high-tech service capable of handling a full spectrum of missions from peace to war.
This year, Singapore is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the RSAF. As with these sorts of commemorations, a range of activities have been planned for the year, with examples being activities tied to the Singapore Airshow as well as displays conducted in the heartlands of the city-state designed to promote greater public awareness of the country’s capabilities.
On September 1, the celebrations reached their climax with the RSAF 50th anniversary Golden Jubilee parade. The parade was held at Tengah Air Base and, according to Singapore’s defense ministry (MINDEF), it was attended by around 1,400 invited guests which included top Singapore officials and military personnel and ASEAN air force chiefs and defense attaches.
The parade itself had several features, including marching contingents from all of the RSAF commands, a mobile column drive-past, and a flypast of RSAF aircraft. It also featured 20 aircraft and weapons systems on static display, including the RSAF’s newly acquired Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (A330-MRTT) which made its inaugural appearance at the parade.
In his remarks during the parade, which he officiated, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong reviewed the history of the RSAF and focused not only on recent and expected developments in equipment and technology, such as the unveiling of a new air defense system and new helicopters to be received starting in 2020, but also the values of its personnel such as discipline and team work. As expected, Lee also toured the A330-MRTT aircraft and unveiled the RSAF50 Commemorative Mural that has been on display for contributions since February.