The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) took delivery of two S-70B Seahawks in late January. The aircraft, serial numbers 252 and 253, are from an order placed in early 2013.
The new Seahawks join six others (tail numbers 260-263, 265-266) owned by the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) but operated by the RSAF’s 123 Squadron at Sembawang Air Base.
The latest pair retains the same sensor suite as the previous six – APS-143 surveillance radar, AAS-44 electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor and the L-3 HELRAS dipping sonar. However, they feature an improved avionics outfit known as the Block 2 configuration, which includes upgraded hardware and software systems, an automatic identification system, as well as a joystick controller in the cabin to allow the tactical co-ordination officer and sensor operator to control the EO/IR sensor. The older Seahawks will be brought up to the same standard in phases.
The original batch of six Seahawks was ordered in 2005, and three of them were delivered to the Peace Triton training detachment at Naval Air Station North Island, California, in 2009. Over a one-year period, initial batches of air and ground crews were trained by US Navy instructors in order to seed 123 Squadron, which achieved initial operational capability with the type in January 2011.
The squadron is tasked with anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare missions, the latter by means of co-operative targeting for RSN ships. They frequently embark on the six Formidable-class stealth frigates and the eight Independence-class Littoral Mission Vessels that are progressively being inducted into service. Roy Choo