Changi Air Base

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Changi Air Base (CAB)

Pangkalan Udara Changi

(Zhāngyí Kōngjūn Jīdì)

சாங்கி வான்படைத் தளம்
(Cāṅki Vāṉpaṭait Taḷam)
RSAF CAB (West) shoulder patch.jpg
Changi Air Base Badge
Airport typeMilitary airbase
OwnerMinistry of Defence (Singapore)
OperatorRepublic of Singapore Air Force
LocationChangi, Singapore
Elevation AMSL7 m / 22 ft
Coordinates01°22′34.53″N 103°58′59.46″E / 1.3762583°N 103.9831833°E / 1.3762583; 103.9831833
Direction Length Surface
m ft
02L/20R 4,000 13,123 Concrete
02C/20C 4,000 13,123 Concrete

Changi Air Base (ICAO: WSSS) or Changi Air Base (West) (Changi West Complex), formerly RAF Changi, is an airfield military airbase of the Republic of Singapore Air Force located at Changi, in the eastern tip of Singapore. Sited at two locations to the east and west of Singapore Changi Airport, it co-shares runway facilities with the civilian airport and currently occupies a third runway slated for future expansion for civilian use by Singapore Changi Airport. Together, the two airfields house 121 Squadron, 112 Squadron, No 145 Squadron, the Field Defence Squadron, the Air Logistics Squadron and the Airfield Maintenance Squadron. The air base badge carries the motto Together in Excellence.


RAF Changi[edit]

RAF Changi badge
External image
1966 aerial view of RAF Station Changi
A satellite image of RAF Changi taken during the United States Department of Defense's Corona KH-4 reconnaissance satellite programme on 2 April 1963 (Singapore time)

The area where Changi Air Base now sits was once a large encampment of British Army artillery and combat engineer units based in Singapore between the mid-1930s up until 1942, when the island fell under Japanese occupation after the British surrender that year. This large encampment, comprising several barracks and military administrative buildings such as Roberts Barrack and Selarang Camp, were used together with the nearby Changi Prison (previously a maximum-security incarceration complex for civilians) for housing many of the Allied prisoners-of-war (POWs) after Japan took over control of Singapore. The construction of the current airfield in Changi Air Base was initiated by the occupying Imperial Japanese military forces using those same Allied POWs imprisoned in the Changi area as forced labourers, building two roughly-paved landing strips between 1943 and 1944, intersecting in a cross-shaped layout and in approximately north-south and east-west directions (similar to what was done at Kallang Airport by Japanese occupation forces) to allow planes to land and takeoff in any possible direction all around. This Japanese-built airfield facility became a Royal Air Force station after the Japanese occupation in Singapore abruptly ended following the Japanese surrender in 1945 and was then renamed as RAF Changi in 1946 by the returning British military authorities. Now, it was the newly-imprisoned Japanese troops under British captivity which were then made to improve both runways, reinforcing the north-south runway for military aircraft and adding perforated steel plates on the east-west runway.

Completed post-war, non-flying RAF Chia Keng — a GCHQ radio-receiving station, was a satellite station of RAF Changi (being the Headquarters Air component part of British Far East Command) until the withdrawal of British troops from Singapore at the end of the 1960s. Also, the nearby RAF Hospital Changi (now defunct as Changi Hospital and more prominently known as Old Changi Hospital, OCH) functioned as the primary British military hospital which provided medical care for all British, Australian and New Zealand servicemen (collectively, these three Commonwealth states which based troops in Singapore became known by the term "ANZUK", for Australia, New Zealand and the UK) stationed in the eastern and northern parts of Singapore while Alexandra Hospital was directed for those stationed in the southern and western areas of Singapore.

Changi Air Base[edit]

Upon the withdrawal of British forces from Singapore, RAF Changi was renamed as Changi Air Base (CAB) and was handed over to the SADC (predecessor of Republic of Singapore Air Force) on 9 Dec 1971. Thereafter, the airfield received its first flying squadron of SADC - the Alouette Squadron and their Alouette IIIs helicopters shortly after New Year's Day 1972. With the arrival of the first Shorts Skyvans in 1973, SADC began to form the 121 Squadron at Changi Air Base and it is currently the oldest resident squadron of the airfield.

The novel 'The Sound of Pirates' by former RAF airman Terence Brand is based in the 1960s both on the airfield and in the surrounding areas.

Singapore Changi Airport[edit]

In June 1975, the Singapore government acquired about two-thirds of the airbase (saved for the main flight-line, hangar/aircraft maintenance facilities and control tower which were located in the western section of the airbase) for the construction of the new Singapore Changi Airport, with the new runways in close alignment with the original north-south runway. The east-west runway was almost erased from the map, currently surviving as a taxiway to the apron area which has remained operational as part of Changi Air Base.[1]

Changi Air Base (West)[edit]

Entrance of Changi Air Base (West)/HQ Changi Air Base.

Following the opening of the new Changi Air Base (East) (Changi East Complex) on 29 November 2004, the existing facilities at Changi Air Base has been renamed as Changi Air Base (West) (Changi West Complex) and Headquarters Changi Air Base (HQ CAB).[2]

The flying squadrons now are:

The Support Squadrons are:

  • Field Defence Squadron (FDS)
  • Airfield Maintenance Squadron (AMS)
  • Airfield Operations Maintenance Squadron Fixed Wing 2 (AOMS-FW2)
  • Ground Logistics Liaison Office / Ground Logistics Squadron (GLLO/GLS)
  • Air Movement Centre (AMC)

Changi Air Base (East)[edit]

The base was opened on 29 November 2004.

The base is closed for runway reconstruction as of July 2018.

The flying squadrons previously based there were:


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Probert, Henry (2006). The History of Changi. Changi University Press ( ISBN 981-05-5580-6.
  2. ^ "DSTA harnesses technology for new airbase extension". Lianhe Zaobao (reproduced by DSTA with permission). 16 July 2002. Archived from the original on 29 July 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2008.

External links[edit]