Singapore gets new early-warning aircraft

Singapore gets new early-warning aircraft as four Gulfstream jets went operational on Friday in a ceremony at Tengah Air Base, officiated by Minister of Defence Ng Eng Hen.

With a detection range of more than 200 nautical miles, the Gulfstream 550 Airborne Early Warning (G550-AEW) aircraft allows the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) to see farther, and respond more effectively to aerial threats in various operational situations.

The four Gulfstream 550s are the same business jets used by the rich. They were converted for military use and replace the RSAF's E-2C AEW Hawkeye that had served the Air Force for more than 20 years.

The G550-AEW is one of the most sophisticated airborne early-warning (AEW) platforms in the world today. AEW eliminates risks of surprise from the air as they provide persistent and all-weather ability to detect, identify and track aerial threats.

The jet is equipped with a sophisticated mission suite that includes an active electronically scanned array radar to detect, identify and track aerial targets.

It has a modern 'glass' cockpit that comprises four 14-inch multifunction LCD screens and a state-of-the-art avionics suite which includes a weather radar to warn the pilots of any adverse weather that potentially affects the aircraft's flight path.

For self protection, the G550-AEW is equipped with a radar warning receiver, a missile warning system, and a chaff and flare dispensing system.

Since the arrival of the first G550-AEW aircraft in Feb 2009, pilots, air warfare officers and maintenance crew of 111 Squadron have undergone intensive training to operate and maintain the aircraft, as well as to integrate the aircraft to support the Singapore Armed Forces' round-the-clock operations.

During this period, the squadron also participated in major exercises such as Exercise Cope Tiger and Exercise Bersama Lima.

Speaking at the ceremony, Dr Ng described the AEW platforms as "critical for a small country like Singapore".

"They eliminate risks of surprise from the air as they provide us a critical edge with persistent and all-weather ability to detect, identify and track aerial threats the whole year round."

tonyng@sph.com.sg

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