Singapore's Heli-Lift Facelift
December 01, 2016 • Leave a Comment
The RSAF operates a Super Puma training detachment at the Oakey Army Aviation Centre in Queensland, Australia. This is being expanded to include a Chinook detachment by the end of 2017 or early 2018. © Roy Choo
Singapore is moving ahead with its medium and heavy lift helicopter renewal programs with the award of contracts to Airbus Helicopters and Boeing for the H225M and CH-47F respectively. The number of airframes and value of the contracts — announced on November 7 — were not publicised.
The favourite in the medium-lift competition, the H225M was running against the Leonardo-Finmeccanica AW101 but a decision on the H225M deal was delayed after the crash of a civilian Super Puma off the coast of Norway. The H225M will replace about two dozen Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)’s AS332M/M1 Super Pumas which were introduced from 1983 and are currently in service with 125 and 126 Squadrons at Sembawang Air Base, as well as the Oakey Army Aviation Centre detachment in Queensland, Australia.
Singapore operates 16 CH-47D/SD Chinooks, the first of which were delivered in 1996. Six of the CH-47Ds are based with the Peace Prairie detachment in Texas, training alongside the Texas Army National Guard's 149th Aviation Regiment. Delivered between 1998 to 2003, the remaining 10 improved CH-47SDs are in service with 127 Squadron at Sembawang. The improved SD features upgraded avionics and engines, though both RSAF versions are equipped with larger fuselage-flank fuel tanks. It is expected that the CH-47Fs to be acquired will replace the older Texas-based CH-47Ds. However, with the establishment of a Chinook training flight in Oakey by the end of 2017, the future of the Peace Prairie detachment and the basing plans for the Fs are uncertain.
Having undergone the MLU program, CH-47SD 88192 was one of four deployed at Warrior’s Camp in Rockhampton, Queensland in Australia to support the Singapore Armed Forces’ unilateral exercise at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area from 15 Sep to 7 Nov. © Roy Choo
Running concurrently with the CH-47F acquisition, the locally-based CH-47SDs are also undergoing a mid-life upgrade program. A joint project among the RSAF, the Defence Science and Technology Agency as well as local company Singapore Technologies Aerospace, modifications include an avionics upgrade, a SATCOM dome and an integrated self-protection suite with chaff and flare dispensers. Developmental trials were recently completed by the RSAF’s Flight Test Centre and the upgrade is being progressively rolled out across the fleet.
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