Singapore Table of Contents
Fighter aircraft were organized into intercept and groundattack squadrons. There were additional aircraft squadrons for long-distance troop and equipment transport and early warning; surface-to-air missile and antiaircraft gun units for air defense; and helicopter squadrons for transporting airmobile infantry into battle or search-and-rescue operations.
Air defense missions were controlled from the ground by the Air Defence Command at Bukit Gombak and from the air by Grumman E-2C early warning and control aircraft. Ground control included a number of radar stations strategically deployed throughout the country. The first of the air force's four Grumman E-2Cs were acquired by Singapore in 1987. Sophisticated long-range radar and tracking equipment aboard these aircraft enabled air defense controllers to detect possible enemy aircraft long before they entered the range of Singapore's ground-based defense radar system. Together the two systems provided an effective air defense warning system.
Two squadrons with thirty-five Northrop F-5E and F-5F interceptors aircraft based at Tengah Air Base provided the nation's first line of air defense. The first squadron of F-5s was formed in 1979 and the second in 1985. The F-5, equipped with AIM9J air-to-air missiles, would perform well in combat against most other types of fighter and bomber aircraft. If necessary, aircraft assigned to the ground-attack squadrons could be used for air intercept missions.
The air force operated four surface-to-air missile systems and deployed antiaircraft guns to protect air bases and radar stations. One unit equipped with British-produced Bloodhound 2 missiles provided long-range and high-altitude protection within an eightykilometer range. Another unit equipped with United States-produced improved HAWK missiles provided defense against medium- to highflying aircraft at distances up to forty kilometers. Two missile systems were intended for close-range air defense: the Britishproduced Rapier, with radar and optical tracking modes, had a twelve-kilometer range; and the Swedish-produced RBS-70, which usually was transported on domestically modified V-200 armored personnel carriers, had a five-kilometer range. The air force was equipped with the same types of antiaircraft guns as the army.
Two models of fighter aircraft were imported by the air force for ground-attack missions in the 1970s and continued to be utilized for that role in 1989. Three squadrons with sixty-three McDonnell Douglas Skyhawks comprised the largest component of the ground-attack force. The A-4S/S1 could be used for bombing missions and close air support. Some of these aircraft were modified by Singapore Aircraft Industries for antishipping and antisubmarine warfare. In 1989 one squadron of thirty British-produced Hawker Hunter fighter aircraft was still flying. However, these aircraft were scheduled to be replaced by twenty F-16 fighter-bombers in the early 1990s.
Two models of helicopters were used by the air force for joint service operations with the army and for search-and-rescue missions. Two squadrons of Bell UH-1H helicopters, each having a complement of twenty helicopters, were formed in the late 1970s to enable the air force to transport specially trained infantrymen anywhere on the island during combat. If both squadrons were used, the air force could airlift a lightly-armed battalion into battle within hours of receiving its orders. In 1986 the air force began to import French-produced AS-332B helicopters to augment its force of UH-1H helicopters for troop transport and to provide an improved search-and-rescue capability. The AS-332B had the advantage of a larger troop capacity and a greater combat radius. In 1989 the air force had taken delivery of six AS-332Bs and deployed them for search-and-rescue operations. An additional sixteen AS-332Bs were scheduled to be delivered to the air force in the early 1990s and would be used primarily for troop transport.
Data as of December 1989
Singapore Table of Contents