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World News

Singapore and Indonesia air forces to mark bilateral relations milestone with combined flypast



By Gaya Chandramohan

The public can catch the rehearsal and actual flypast around the Marina South area on Sep 5 and 7.

To mark five decades of bilateral defence relations, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and the Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) will execute a combined flypast on Sep 7 for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Indonesian president Joko Widodo during their Leaders’ Retreat.

The joint RISING50 flypast, which stands for “Republic of Indonesia and Singapore 50 years of bilateral relations”, will feature 10 RSAF F-16s and 10 TNI-AU F-16s in two flypast profiles over the Marina Bay Cruise Centre in Singapore, where both Mr Lee and Mr Widodo will witness the event.

On the day of the flypast, both squadrons will join up in the airspace southwest of Singapore and form the first profile – two arrowhead formations – with the RSAF leading the way to the Marina South area.

This will be followed by the second profile 20 minutes later, in the formation of ’50’. The TNI-AU is set to form the digit ‘5’ and the RSAF, the digit ‘0’.

Trailing the F-16s flypast will also be five RSAF F-15SGs that will execute a bomb burst manoeuvre as a salute to both nations and to signal the end of the event.

TNI-AU’s F-16s will then head back to the Roesmin Nurjadin Air Force Base in Pekanbaru, Indonesia, where they are based, flying past Batam and leading the way for some Singapore F-16s to the post-flypast celebration.

The coordinated flypast of such a scale is only possible through the mutual trust and close working relationship both countries have established over the past 50 years, said Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Nick Wong at a media briefing on Aug 30.

As the Chief Secretariat for the Singapore half of the joint working group (JWG) that has been overseeing the planning and technicalities of the flypast since it was set up in March this year, LTC Wong revealed that immense preparations have gone into executing the event.

“We conducted several meetings in both Singapore and Indonesia to meet our counterparts face to face for working group discussions to suss out all challenges and details, and consider all issues like weather considerations and unforeseen circumstances that could occur during the flypast,” he said.

The second formation, in particular, is a “very complex manoeuvre” that they have had to train hard for, LTC Wong noted.

“We have seen the ’50’ formation during the National Day Parade, but the digits then were aligned front and back, while this flypast’s will be side by side. We will only have approximately three minutes to get all the aircraft together and everyone will have to take reference off each other.”

In addition to many briefings and debriefings after combined training sessions, both air forces have also had to work out details concerning each others’ operating procedures for a seamless performance come Sep 7.

“(This relationship) is not something that developed in a short time, but through many years of relations. We meet them annually for staff meetings … and we discuss all the bilateral activities, exercises and training and how we can continue to build up this interaction and this bond with each other. The RSAF-TNI AU combined flypast is an excellent testament to the strength of our bilateral defence relationship,” added LTC Wong.

Indonesia’s and Singapore’s long-standing defence relationship is not only characterised by Exercise Eagle Indopura, the SAF’s longest-running bilateral exercise with a foreign military, it is also distinguished by the assistance rendered by both parties to each other in times of crisis.

These include how the TNI assisted in the search-and-rescue (SAR) operations after the 1997 Silkair crash in Palembang, and the SAF assisted in the relief efforts for the 2004 Aceh tsunami and the SAR operations following the 2014 crash of AirAsia flight QZ8501.

The RSAF and TNI-AU will be conducting a rehearsal for the combined flypast on Sep 5 from 2.30pm to 3pm, before the actual flypast on Sep 7 at the same time.

Both events may be viewed by the public from various vantage points in the Marina South area. Real time updates of the combined flypast as well as the flight route for the combined flypast can be found on the RSAF Facebook page.

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