The featured image is of the General Dynamics F-16D Fighting Falcon belonging to the Republic of Singapore Air Force as it prepares to depart on a night training mission from Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona. Singapore Air Show had a majority of Western planes.
Entering SEA’s Largest Air Show
The 2016 Singapore Air Show was held from 16th to 21st of February, 2016, the Defensionem team sent me, as the special reporter to the show. As I did not obtain media pass, I went to the show on 21st of February, which was the last day and also the second public day of the show.
The show was held at Changi Exhibition Centre, which is located beside Changi International Airport with a road distance of about 16 minutes from it, for those who does not want to go to the show by car or taxi, the organizer provided a free shuttle bus service at Singapore Expo, which is accessible to the East West Line MRT. I personally choose the shuttle bus service as my hotel is too far from the main venue, and why spent money on taxi fares when there’s a free shuttle bus? By entering the Expo you can already see that Singapore take its security in a very strict way, as all the visitors have to go through 2 expo halls and 1 security checkpoint with metal detectors and X-ray machines in order to board the bus. Overall the process took about 15-20 minutes to go through, and the bus take about 30 minutes to reach the Changi Exhibition Centre.
First Aerial Display Session
The first aerial display session start from 10.30am until 11.10am. As I miscalculated my time, I arrived on the show late and the first aerial display already started before I disembark from the bus. Therefore I missed the 35th Fighter Wing’s F-16CJ display from the USAF Pacific Air Force Solo Display Team. Follow up is the ROKAF Black Eagles with their KAI T-50 Golden Eagle, which both have their debut at Singapore Air Show, as expected from the well-trained ROKAF, the Black Eagles did not disappoint the crowds and performed several aerobatics maneuver such as Rainfall, Scissor Pass, Box Cross and Taeguk. Next on is the RMAF Su-30MKM solo aerial display, which was considered as the best performance of the show. Unlike last year’s disappointing performance at LIMA’15, RMAF’s pilot gave out his best and performed Pugachev’s Cobra, Falling Leaf, and several high speed dive and roll maneuvers, wrapping up the first aerial display session.
As Singapore Air Show is the largest air show in the entire South East Asia region, do expect it has a vast array of display aircraft. This year’s event has the largest display since the the show was first held in 2008, with over 60 aircraft on display which included commercial, executive and military aircraft. Due to scheduling conflicts, a portion of the aircraft on display left after the end of media day, mainly the commercial aircraft, therefore I missed out the chance to see the A380, A350, B787, CS100 and also the Sukhoi Superjet 100. The entire Bombardier, Textron Aviation and Embraer displays left right after the end of media day so none of them are on the show during the public days. USAF C-17A Globemaster III also left before the public days started. Even after the departure of several aircraft, the show still has over 35 aircraft on display. The first aircraft you’ll see on the display area is a wooden mockup of Lockheed Martin’s troublesome F-35B Lightning II. As expected the RSAF provided most of the military aircraft on display, which they provided 2 F-15SG, 2 F-16C/D, Heron 1 and Hermes 450 UAV, AH-64D, AS332M, CH-47 and the one and only G550 AEW&C. Combining all the US Armed Forces branch, the United States of America provided 8 aircraft, including both its most advanced aircraft in service and the oldest type in service. They exhibited 2 F-22, MV-22, 2 F-18E, KC-130J, KC-135R and P-8A. The rest of the display included RMAF A400M, RAAF C-27J, TNI AU CN-235, several Airbus and Bell helicopters and executive jets from both Gulfstream and Dassault. Most of the aircraft on display from the RSAF and US Armed Forces are accessible to the cockpit or the cargo bay, except those with highly sensitive or classified technologies. This feature make Singapore Air Show as one of the most opened air show I’ve ever seen.
As for public days, most of the indoor exhibition stands are closed too. Just like the other air shows, indoor exhibitions are full of scale models. Surprisingly Boeing only have their full range of 7X7 commercial aircraft series models on display, which Airbus displayed a mixed commercial and military models, from the A400M to the A330neo. Rolls Royce put up a large lift fan and F135 engine mockup. Both IAI and ST Engineering displayed their UAV. Both Chinese company AVIC and COMAC which do not have any static display displayed the model they wished to export, including the FC-20(J-10), JF-17, L-15, ARJ21 and C919. UAC from Russia display the whole range of Flanker family, along with the SSJ100, surprisingly the Be-42 was on the display stand but MiG-35 is absence from it. For other manufacturers they also put up some models but not as much as Boeing, Airbus and UAC.
Second Aerial Display
The second aerial display started from 2.20pm til 3.00pm. A surprise fly by from B-52H that flew from Anderson Air Base, Guam started the display, but it didn’t wow the crowds as it doesn’t perform any maneuver. Second up is the Rafale solo display from Armée de l’Air, which is also the pilot’s last duty as a display pilot. It performed several high speed fly by, dive, roll maneuvers and also displayed the low speed handling of the Rafale, showcasing the agility of the Gallic fighter. To wrap up the second aerial display session, the RSAF has its integrated F-15SG and AH-64D display, which had its debut this year. As described by the organizer, it’s a display that showcased RSAF as a integrated armed forces. At first both F-15SG and AH-64D showcased their own maneuverability separately, but later they come up with some crossings. For the end of the aerial display the AH-64D performed a “bow” to the crowds with the F-15SG releasing flares at the back, signalling the end of the aerial display session.
The End of a Wonderful Air Show
Shortly after the second aerial display session, I left the airshow at 3.30pm, which I stayed there for 6 hours. As it is public days, it is hard to take photos without getting the crowds in it, so get a media pass if it is possible if you wanted to take some nice photos. The things I like about Singapore Air Show is how open it is, as most of the aircraft are accessible, unlike LIMA’15 which none of the aircraft is accessible except for a wooden Typhoon mockup. The aerial display of Singapore Air Show is also better and being much closer to the crowd where I am able to take close up photos without using a zoom lens. Do notice that if you are a hardcore aviation enthusiast, a zoom lens is a must as Changi Exhibition Centre is close to Changi Airport, which you can constantly see commercial aircraft taking off during the show. The only downside of the air show is you are unable to see the aerial display aircraft taking off or landing as they’re based at the nearby Changi West Air Base, which could not be seen from the exhibition side. Nonetheless Singapore Air Show still gave me an extraordinary experience, and temporary damage to my listening ability due to the noises from the jet engines.
A photo gallery from the show will be put up on a later date.
All photos taken by Jeang Herng. All rights reserved.