Two famous Asian aerobatic teams will take to the skies this February over Changi. In upcoming Singapore Air Show, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Black Knights will be flying with the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) Black Eagles.(Singapore Airshow 14 website is a little slow in updating their flying display, despite the ROKAF making an official announcement on their participation).
The RSAF homeboys, the Black Knights (BK), is back again after their last appearance in 2008. Led by Black Knight 1 Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Leong, the 6 ship F-16C team, with new flashy Crescent and Stars paint job, will present new maneuvers and some familiar ones this year. The Black Knights is formed by professional fighter pilots and usually come together every five years or so to celebrate the RSAF’s anniversary. This will be the second time since 2008 the team fly a full F-16 team, previously in 2000 the team had a mix of two F-16 and four A-4SU Skyhawks. Behind the scene, taking over the familiar voice of ”Iceman” is the voice of ME3 Naranasamy, the stand by voice over for NDP 13, and ME3 Neville Ng.
Also check out Black Knights Corporate Video with some neat in cockpit shots =)
Straits Times’ media preview on Thursday allowed us to have a glimpse of what to expect from the BK this year, of which some ‘new’ moves are quite familiar to those in the air show scene. Older BK moves include the mirror pass and the Heart and Cupid, which was seen in 2008. One of the classic favorites, Sea Shell into the Way of the Dragon, has been around since A4 days
One of the new maneuvers is the Criss Cross, where 4 ship BK intersect each other on a single point.
Another 2 moves, are Twist and Shout and Double Inverted Wrap, where in Double Inverted Wrap, ”two Knights fly upside down, while two others spiral around them”. It is dubbed as performed the first time in the world by a F-16 aerobatic team. Note the disclaimer ”by a F-16 aerobatic team” as these moves are already claimed by the other team that will appear this year , the Republic of Korea Black Eagles’ T-50s.
The Republic of Korea Air Force’s aerobatic team, 239th Aerobatic Squadron, the Black Eagles (BE) will be making their debut here in Singapore. Flying in from Korea via Taiwan, Philippines and Brunei the team consist of eight T-50B. Those following the aviation scene will recall the T-50 was one of the candidate for the RSAF Jet Trainer replacement, now the T-50 is in service with the Indonesian TNI-AU and Philippines will be signing a contact for the aircraft as well. The team was in the Royal International Air Tattoo 2012 where they won the Best Overall Flying Demonstration, beating teams like UK’s Red Arrows. Having seen them personally in UK and Korea last year, I can vouch for their excellent display with hard movements and close formations.
If their 2012/2013 sequence is not changed, many of their 24 moves will be similar,if not the same as the BK. The BK’s Double Inverted Wrap is known as the Double Helix in the Black Eagles, only difference is in the BE the centre 2 aircraft will be executing a mirror pass. Twist and Shout is aka Roll Back and After Burner Loop by the Black Eagles
If the weather permits and the BE is carrying out the High Show Display (8000ft), look out for the Taeguk display as they form the signature Korean emblem in the sky.
This will be an interesting air show to follow, as 6 ship Black Knights face off with 8 ship Black Eagles, with both teams known for their tight formations and aggressive flying. The BK’s F-16s will certainly create a bigger punch in the sky with their Pratt and Whitney engines and larger aircraft surface area, and of course the support from the home-crowd.
However having said that, they face a professional full time aerobatic team from Korea, and with 8 aircrafts in the sky, our eyes will be kept busy. Not to mention two extra smoke trails to create bigger and more intricate formations. Not to forget the T-50 is a lead in trainer for the F-16, thus flying and engine performance (T-50 can fly supersonic with their afterburner GE F404 engines) is similar to their bigger fighter cousin.
I do have to say this is not a full on competition for the best team, but SA14 will be an excellent opportunity for these two air forces to learn from each other, after all, RSAF and ROKAF have similar orbat with the F-15 and the F-16s. While the participating teams and aircrafts for Singapore Airshow 14 are yet to be finalized, the two ‘Blacks’ will be one of the centre of attention for the crowds.