The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has selected the Airbus Helicopters H225M and Boeing CH-47F Chinook to recapitalize its medium- and heavy-lift military helicopter fleet. The new helicopters will replace the fleet of AS332M/M-1 Super Pumas and older CH-47D Chinooks currently operated by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).
A Singapore Ministry of Defence spokesperson told AIN the H225M and CH-47F offer the “most cost-effective solution to provide the SAF with a robust heli-lift capability for a wide range of operations,” noting also that the H225M offers an approximately 20percent more range than the Super Pumas.
The reduced footprint from the H225M’s folding rotor blades and tailboom compared to the Super Puma will also be useful for shipborne operations, with Singapore finalizing its requirement for new amphibious multi-mission ships with expanded helicopter facilities.
Neither the ministry nor either manufacturer has revealed the number of H225Ms and CH-47Fs Singapore has contracted for, although sources have previously put the number of Super Puma replacements Singapore is looking for at 12 aircraft.
The ministry spokesperson also told AIN that the new helicopters are projected to begin from 2020 onwards, with the RSAF currently working out the details of the drawdown of the existing Super Pumas and older CH-47Ds.
Singapore normally makes its defense acquisitions in small, incremental batches, gradually building up experience on new equipment and avoiding spending spikes and troughs. It is expected that this will be just the first batch of both helicopter types Singapore acquires, with the nation possibly looking to eventually acquire approximately 24 H225Ms and 18 to 20 Chinooks.
The RSAF currently flies approximately two dozen Super Pumas out of an original fleet of 34 ordered in 1983 and 1991 with two Singapore-based squadrons and a training detachment based at the Australia’s Army Aviation Centre Oakey (AACO). These serve alongside 16 CH-47D/SD Chinooks of which six are the older D models assigned to the Peace Prairie training detachment with the Texas National Guard at Grand Prairie, Texas.
The Super Pumas and Chinooks support Singaporean army operations and have also participated in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) missions in the region. The RSAF’s Super Pumas are also used for regular medevac and search-and-rescue (SAR) missions throughout Singapore’s large search-and-rescue Region, with one helicopter placed on 15-minute standby 24 hours a day.
When asked about the effect the latest procurement will have on the Oakey and Grand Prairie training detachments, the Singaporean Ministry of Defence spokesperson said that “a decision on the training arrangements will be made in due course”; however, AIN understands that construction of new infrastructure at the AACO to support the deployment of an additional detachment of RSAF Chinooks is due to start in December.
According to Australian government tender documents, the project is worth A$50 million (approximately U.S.$38 million) and will consist of refurbishment of existing RSAF helicopter training facilities, construction of new support logistics/maintenance facilities and construction of airfield infrastructure.