Singapore Airshow 16 – Key Takeaways

The biannual Singapore Airshow has just ended last weekend ,the crowd were treated with flying displays from the Republic of Singapore Airshow (RSAF), Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) , United States Air Force (USAF) etc.

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On the defence side, Swedish system and airframe giant Saab unveiled not one but three new Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) solutions, the GlobalEye AEW, Swordfish on Q400 turboprop and G6000 biz-jet. It is almost obvious with regional tensions and ‘arms race’ in the South China Sea and East Asia, countries are becoming more wary and suspicious of their neighbouring countries.

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In the air, the Sukhoi returned to Singapore after more than 15 years, this time in the RMAF banner. It continued to amaze Western pilots and spectators with its unique handling abilities, all thanks to the thrust vector nozzles.  While we saw the RSAF F-15 and USAF F-16 muscle and soar into the air like a typical American muscle car, the Sukhoi did quite the opposite, showing up slow handling abilities and physics defying ‘Cobra’ manoeuvre. It is a stark reminder to young Singaporeans that the F-15 is not all the rave it seems, and someone out there does have a better handling aircraft which may out-manoeuvre an American plane. See Senang Diri’s post on this.

I had the chance to view the inside of the RMAF A400M. Clean lines, well covered interior and more  importantly, extremely spacious. An A400M is capable to ferrying 20tonnes (max payload 37 tonnes) cargo across Asia, to Japan and most of Australia. It has space an provision for a Super Puma, or a Chinook, or two AH-64 Apache or APC of similar size.It will be a game changer in the region in terms of airlift and in support for humanitarian missions, and in my opinion, will steal some headlines.

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It was a slow airshow this year, with only disclosed 11 deals penned, valued around US$12.7 billion, compared to $32 billion two years ago. There was once upon a time where airlines would place 100 airframe orders, but now with looming economy downturn, assembly backlog, airlines becomes more rational with their purchase. Airbus went home back with a major signings, one for 6 A350XWB for Philippines Airlines, and another for 14 A330neo for an undisclosed airline.

We hope for a stronger SA18, while the RSAF usually wouldn’t announce signings at the Airshow, we now look forward to the Committee of Supply Debate in a couple of month’s time.

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