PICTURES: Singapore air assets in Indonesia AirAsia QZ8501 search and recovery

January 04, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Singapore's close proximity and warm ties with Indonesia has allowed it to be the first and largest foreign contributor to search and locate efforts for the Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ8501, which was lost while en route from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore. Initially covering an area of 156,000 sq km, the search operation was beyond the resources the Indonesians had in possession. The search effort was also complicated by monsoonal weather — stormy skies, poor visibility and choppy seas.

The Singapore Armed Forces contribution to date has involved the deployment of Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) C-130B/H Hercules surveillance flights from its homebase in Paya Lebar, five Republic of Singapore Navy vessels — stealth frigate RSS Supreme, missile corvette RSS Valour, submarine support and rescue vessel MV Swift Rescue, mine countermeasure vessel RSS Kallang and landing ship tank RSS Persistence, the latter emabarked with two RSAF AS332M/M1 Super Puma helicopters.

Indonesian air assets that have been involved in the search operation are as follows: Indonesian Air Force (Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Udara - TNI-AU) Boeing 737-200 Surveiller Maritime Patrol Aircraft, C-130 Hercules, C-295, NAS-332 Super Puma; Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Laut - TNI–AL) C-212, CN-235, Bell 412s and Bo 105. The Indonesian Army also supported the operation with Mi-35P Hind and Bell 412 helicopters. Foreign aircraft involved in the QZ8501 hunt include Korean and Australian P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, Malaysian C-130 Hercules and Russian Beriev Be-200 multi-role amphibious aircraft. Two Chinese Il-76 strategic airlifters are also set to participate in the search operation.

Images courtesy of the RSAF's Facebook page.

After receiving approval from the Indonesians, the first RSAF C-130 departed for search and locate operations in the afternoon of 28 December 2014, some 8 hours after the flight was officially declared missing.

The RSAF C-130 has greater endurance and carrying capacity for "scanners" compared to the more modern Fokker 50 Enforcer Maritime Patrol Aircraft. "Scanners", with their Mk.1 eyeballs, are still much needed in a maritime search and locate mission as onboard sensors search radars and EO/IR sensors have their limitations in such operational environments.

Two AS332M/M1 Super Pumas embarked onboard the landing ship tank RSS Persistence participated in the search and locate operation as well as utility flights in support of the operation.


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