RSAF's new helicopters, now fully operational, have saved lives, supported flood relief operations

RSAF's new helicopters, now fully operational, have saved lives, supported flood relief operations
(Left to righ) 125 Squadron Aircrew Specialist 3rd Sergeant Edthan Yeo, 126 Squadron CH-47F Commanding Officer Major Tan Guan Yong and 806 Squadron Air Force Engineer ME4 Mandy Ooi standing in front of the H225M (left) and CH-47F.
PHOTO: AsiaOne/Rauf Khan

The Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF)?new birds?might have achieved full operational capability?(FOC)?only this week, but the H225M and CH-47F have?already seen their fair share of action.

They helped save the lives of a stroke victim on a cruise ship and a cargo ship worker who needed urgent medical attention, and had also been involved in flood relief efforts in Australia.

The transport?helicopters'?FOC status was?announced at a ceremony in Sembawang Air Base on Thursday (April 11). The H225M medium lift and CH-47F heavy lift helicopters?will replace the older fleet of?AS332M Super Pumas?and CH-47D Chinooks.

At the ceremony, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen Ng, who flew on the H225M,?revealed how the helicopters have?contributed to field operations.

During the Chinese New Year period, for instance, the H225M was activated for an aeromedical evacuation, Ng said.

RSAF pilots flew about 120km off the coast of Singapore and extracted a crew member of a cargo ship who needed urgent medical attention.

Earlier, in March 2022, two CH-47Fs were deployed from the Oakey Detachment in Australia?to support the country's flood relief operations.?

Ng said: "Our?[helicopters] proved to be reliable and dependable in transporting personnel and heavy emergency supplies for those in need."

Third Sergeant Edthan Yeo also shared how he, while training among the second batch of National Servicemen (NSFs)?to operate the H225M, helped save the life of?a 62-year-old woman who had suffered a stroke on board a cruise ship sailing in?the South China Sea.

On Feb 1 this year, Yeo, 22, was activated for the medivac.

"I felt a sense of adrenaline and anxiety as it was my first time getting activated, but I trusted that the training I received?more than prepared me to complete the mission successfully," he recalled.

He was the winchman responsible for bringing the woman aboard the helicopter.

Because stroke patients have to receive medical help within a short time frame, Yeo?said:?"There was a sense of rush, having to quickly?bring her on the helicopter?and fly her to SGH (Singapore General Hospital)."

He was lowered down to the ship, where he and the vessel's crew members secured the woman to a stretcher before the helicopter lifted them back up.

She was conscious and stable, and mission was completed smoothly, he said.

'We have come a long way'

In his speech, Ng also looked back on the history of the RSAF and its helicopter fleet.

Explaining that the SAF?first acquired helicopters 55 years ago, he said: "It has been a long journey… we have come a long way."

He added that SAF received eight Alouette III helicopters in 1969, which became part of the RSAF's first operational unit after 10?personnel were sent to France for training.

In 1985, Singapore purchased Super Pumas, and in?1994, the CH-47D Chinook.

"Today, the H225M and the CH-47Fs will provide the SAF?with an enhanced, robust?and flexible lift capability," Ng said.

"They will strengthen the RSAF's ability to undertake a wide range of operations, including search and rescue operations, aeromedical evacuations, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

"More importantly, these two new helicopter platforms will also enhance cross-service integration, allowing the RSAF to better support our Army and Navy troops in equipment lifts."

Excited to see the bird in the flesh

Military Expert 4 Mandy Ooi, a 27-year-old?Air Force engineer, recalled her excitement the day the CH-47F arrived in Singapore in May 2021.?

"Bringing it back to Sembawang Air Base and starting the operationalisation process was complex and challenging," she said.?

"But we were?able to overcome the obstacles and ensure a successful integration of the new aircraft into our operations."

As for the?H225M helicopters, they were first unveiled in December 2021?and meant to replace the ageing Super Pumas, CNA reported that year.

Compared to the Super Puma, the H225M has approximately 20 per cent longer range, and can meet the SAF's?lift and reach requirements more efficiently.

ALSO READ:?SAF mission crew returns to Singapore after delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza

khooyihang@asiaone.com

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