RSAF Black Knights

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RSAF Black Knights
RSAFBlackKnights-F16-200802.jpg
Black Knights 2008 – Delta FlyBy
Active 1973 – present
Country  Singapore
Branch
Republic of Singapore Air Force
Role Aerobatic display
Size 6 pilots
25 technicians
Garrison/HQ Tengah Air Base
Colors Red and white
Commanders
Current
commander
Lt. Col. Joseph Leong
Insignia
RSAF Black Knights patch RSAF Black Knights shoulder patch.jpg
Aircraft flown
Fighter Six F-16C Fighting Falcons

The Black Knights is the official aerobatics team of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) featuring six F-16C Fighting Falcons in formation flight. The Black Knights' emblem is sported on the red vertical tail of each of the team's aircraft and the team's name is emblazoned on both sides of the aircraft which are painted in red and white – the national colours of Singapore (see Figure 10 in photo gallery).[1]

History[edit]

Tengah Air Base crest with the prominent Black Knight centerpiece.

The team was commissioned in 1973 initially as the Osprey Red, five years after the creation of the RSAF and eight years as an independent nation. In 1974, the team was renamed as The Black Knights.[1]

The Black Knights has its namesake of origin from the game of chess where the Knight is widely regarded as the most aggressive, flexible and manoeuvrable of all the chess pieces, having both the ability to breach barriers and move in nimble and strategically important directions, thus exemplifying flexibility and precision manoeuvrability as personified by the pilots of the team during their aerial manoeuvres.

The Black Knights is also the formation insignia of Tengah Air Base, home to the RSAF's fighter aircraft and the RSAF Black Knights.

In 1979, four members of the squadron were killed when their aircraft crashed into a cloud-covered mountain. One of the people who survived the accident due to mechanical problems grounding his aircraft was Tsu Way Ming, who would later be the cause behind the crash of SilkAir Flight 185.[2]

In tandem with the technological advancements and development of the RSAF, the Black Knights progressed from flying a four-ship formation of the Hawker Hunters in the 1970s to a five-ship F-5E Tiger IIs team in the 1980s.

In the 1990s, the Black Knights performed in a six-aircraft formation consisting of the locally re-engined A-4SU Super Skyhawks, using it until year 2000 (refer to performances).

Training[edit]

Unlike the US Air Force Thunderbirds or the Red Arrows from the Royal Air Force, the Black Knights is not a full-time aerobatics team.[3]

The team was formed only after the pilots and ground crew went through a stringent selection process following recommendation from their peers and senior commanding officers. To be considered for selection, each fighter pilot must have clocked at least 1,000 flying hours.

Also, other than full dress rehearsal for National Day Parade or air shows and partly due to the limited airspace available for training in Singapore since its inception back in the 1970s, the Black Knights has frequently conducted their own training over the airspace within Singapore Armed Forces Southern Islands Live-firing zone, which encompasses the offshore islands of Pulau Sudong, Pulau Senang and Pulau Pawai (see Fig. 11 & 12 in photo gallery).

Performances[edit]

Closeup of a RSAF Black Knight F-16 on static display.
Low level head-on pass during NDP 2008.

Asian Aerospace 2000[edit]

Asian Aerospace 2000 was one of the first major air shows of the new millennium, this inspired plans for another six-aircraft RSAF Black Knights aerobatics team. As it was envisioned that the team would fly an all-F-16 display, four A-4SUs were added to bring the team to six when only two F-16s were available. This decision turn out to make history for the RSAF as it became the first air force in the world to combine these two aircraft types in one aerobatics team and was thus flown as such during the air show (see Fig. 1 & 2 in photo gallery).

National Day Parade 2000 (NDP2000)[edit]

On 9 August 2000, the RSAF Black Knights appeared during the air segment of the parade which featured a four-ship formation flight of A-4SU Super Skyhawks performing aerobatic stunts to thrill the crowds at the Padang in front of Singapore's City Hall building. This marks the last time the team uses A-4SU Super Skyhawks, the type was finally retired from front-line use in 2005.

Singapore Air Show 2008[edit]

After a hiatus of almost eight years, the newly reformed RSAF Black Knights took their F-16Cs to perform aerobatic flying displays at the inaugural Singapore Airshow from 19 to 24 February 2008.[4]

Overseas performances[edit]

On 24 April 2008, at the invitation of Air Chief Marshal Chalit Pukbhasuk – Commander-in-Chief of Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF), the Black Knights performed in an aerial display at the Don Muang Airport, Bangkok.[5] This performance by the RSAF Black Knights was to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of RSAF-RTAF bilateral exercises which had begun in 1983. (See Fig. 13 in photo gallery.[6])

National Day Parade 2008 (NDP2008)[edit]

As with the tradition of National Day Parades in Singapore held every year since 1966, the Republic of Singapore Air Force scheduled the Black Knights for another crowd thrilling appearance during National Day Parade, 2008.[7]

RSAF Open House 2008[edit]

The RSAF Open House is a bi-annual event which is usually held at Paya Lebar Air Base and in conjunction with the 40th Anniversary of Republic of Singapore Air Force in 2008,[8] it would be open to public for two days from 30 to 31 August 2008.[9] Also, the RSAF Black Knights are scheduled for another aerobatic display to thrill the crowds.

Singapore Air Show 2014[edit]

The team will return after a hiatus of almost 6 years at the Singapore Air Show 2014. The Team will feature an all new paint scheme which consist of the crescent moon and five star found on the national flag. The team is scheduled to perform for the crowd on 11 to 16 February.[10]

Pilots[edit]

  • Team Leader (Black Knight 1):
    • LTC Joseph Leong has served with the RSAF for 24 years and logging over 4,000 flying hours in the A4-SU, the F-5E and the F-16. He has served both in Singapore in 140SQN, 143SQN and 145SQN, and overseas in the Peace Carvin II detachment in USA as a pilot. LTC Leong was also the Commanding Officer of 150SQN in France and is currently an instructor in 140SQN.
  • Right Wingman (Black Knight 2):
    • CPT Devdutt Sasihadran has served with the RSAF for 9 years and logging over 1,400 flying hours in the F-16. He has served in 140SQN as a pilot and 145SQN as a pilot and as a flying instructor. He is currently an instructor in 140SQN.
  • Left Wingman (Black Knight 3):
    • CPT Jeremy Tan has served with the RSAF for 14 years and logging over 1,700 flying hours in the F-16. He has served in 143SQN and 145SQN in Singapore and 150SQN in France as an instructor. He is currently an instructor at 140SQN.
  • Slotman (Black Knight 4):
    • CPT Augustin Wan has served with the RSAF for 15 years and logging over 2,300 flying hours in the F-16. He has served both locally in 140SQN and 145SQN and overseas in the Peace Carvin II detachment in USA as a pilot and 130SQN in Australia as an instructor. He is currently serving as an instructor with the 140SQN. Captain Wan is was also notably the "Right Wingman" of the 2008 Black Knights team as Black Knight 2.
  • Lead Solo (Black Knight 5):
    • MAJ Eugene Lim has served with the RSAF for 14 years and logging over 2,100 flying hours in the F-16. He has served in Singapore in the 140 SQN, 143 SQN and 145 SQN and overseas in the Peace Carvin II detachment in USA. He was a fighter weapons instructor in 143SQN where he currently serves as a pilot. He also performed for the Singapore Airshow 2012 as the F-16 solo with the F-15SG.
  • Opposing Solo (Black Knight 6):
    • CPT Chang Haw Ning has served with the RSAF for 13 years and logging over 2,300 flying hours in the F-16. He has served both in Singapore in 140SQN, 143SQN and 145SQN as a pilot, and overseas in the Peace Carvin II detachment in USA as a pilot and instructor. He is currently a flying instructor with 143SQN.

Manoeuvres[edit]

The following is a list of aerial manoeuvres which would be showcased by the team:

  1. Delta FlyBy (see Fig.3 in photo gallery)
  2. Twisted Loop
  3. Swan Roll (see Fig.8 in photo gallery)
  4. Chevron Roll
  5. Palm Split (see Fig.6 in photo gallery)
  6. Criss Cross
  7. Cuban
  8. Line Abreast Loop – Diamond Twist Cut
  9. Opposing Rolls
  10. Vertical Twist
  11. Mirror Pass
  12. Twinkle Roll
  13. Slow Speed, Afterburner Climb (see Fig.5 in photo gallery)
  14. Flaming Heart (see Fig.7 in photo gallery)
  15. Curtains (see Fig.4, 5 & 12 in photo gallery)
  16. Twist and Shout
  17. Double&Single Inverted Wrap
  18. Bomb Burst with Black knight 6 discharging flares

Photo gallery[edit]

Aircraft operated & year appeared[edit]

  1. Hawker Hunters – 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1983[1]
  2. F-5E Tiger-IIs – 1981[1]
  3. A-4SU Super Skyhawks – 1990, 1994, 2000[1]
  4. F-16A Fighting Falcons – 2000[1]
  5. F-16C Fighting Falcons – 2008 & 2014[1]

See also[edit]

The six-ship missing man formation flown in tribute of LTC Casey Tan.

Note[edit]

  • Incidentally, LTC Philip Chionh who is the Lead Solo of the team is married to the Singaporean actress – Zoe Tay.[11]
  • On 22 February 2008, the Black Knights flew a six-ship missing man formation in a flypast tribute to one of their fellow pilots – LTC Casey "Mongol" Tan Kum Cheng who died.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Black Knights – History". MINDEF. 24 April 2010. Retrieved 8 March 2012. 
  2. ^ Paddock, Richard (5 September 2001). "A Jet Crash That Defies Resolution". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "Aerial Artistry". Cyber Pioneer – MINDEF. 29 February 2008. Retrieved 27 September 2008. 
  4. ^ "RSAF Black Knights to Perform at Singapore Airshow 2008" (Press release). MINDEF. 11 September 2007. Retrieved 27 September 2008. 
  5. ^ "RSAF Black Knights 'wow' crowds in Bangkok (story & video)". The Straits Times. 12 May 2008. Retrieved 27 September 2008. 
  6. ^ "The RSAF's Black Knights to Perform in Bangkok in Commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of Bilateral Exercises" (Press release). MINDEF. 17 April 2008. Retrieved 27 September 2008. 
  7. ^ Lim, Jessica (13 June 2008). "Black Knights to blaze new trail at NDP". The Straits Times. Retrieved 27 September 2008. 
  8. ^ "40th Anniversary of RSAF". MINDEF. Retrieved 27 September 2008. 
  9. ^ "RSAF Open House 2008". MINDEF. 25 August 2008. Retrieved 27 September 2008. 
  10. ^ "RSAF Black Knights to Perform at Singapore Airshow 2014". MINDEF. 26 July 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  11. ^ "Visitors brave heat, snaking queues to catch last day of Singapore Airshow 2008" (Press release). Singapore Airshow. 24 February 2008. Retrieved 27 September 2008. 

External links[edit]

Video clips[edit]