Paya Lebar Air Base

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Paya Lebar Airbase
Paya Lebar, Singapore in Singapore
Paya Lebar Airbase is located in Singapore
Paya Lebar Airbase
Paya Lebar Airbase
Location in Singapore
Coordinates01°21′37″N 103°54′34″E / 1.36028°N 103.90944°E / 1.36028; 103.90944Coordinates: 01°21′37″N 103°54′34″E / 1.36028°N 103.90944°E / 1.36028; 103.90944
TypeAir Force Base
Site information
OwnerGovernment of Singapore
OperatorRepublic of Singapore Air Force
United States Air Force
Site history
Built1954 (1954) (as Singapore International Airport)
In use1954 – present
Airfield information
IdentifiersIATA: QPG, ICAO: WSAP
Direction Length and surface
02/20 3,780 metres (12,402 ft) Asphalt
Source: DAFIF[1][2]

Paya Lebar Air Base (PLAB) (IATA: QPG, ICAO: WSAP) is a military airbase of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and the United States Air Force (USAF) located at Airport Road in Paya Lebar, in the central-eastern part of Singapore. The airbase goes by the motto of Strength Through Readiness.

Originally built in 1954 as Singapore International Airport to replace Kallang Airport, control of the airport was transferred to RSAF in 1980 when it was renamed Paya Lebar Air Base, following the relocation of the civilian airport to Changi.


The control tower and terminal building in 1971

The airport was built from 1952 to 1955, and opened on 20 August that year by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Alan Lennox-Boyd.[3] The architect for the project was J. J. Bryan, a public works engineer with experience constructing airports in Malaya and India.[4]

It was a hub for Malayan Airways at this time (the other being Kuala Lumpur), and the airline had its first flight outside Southeast Asia in 1958, using a DC-4 leased from Qantas, flying to Hong Kong. Turboprops were introduced over the next few years, and the name was changed to Malaysian Airways. In 1962 a joint RAF/Singapore civil Air Traffic Control service was formed to provide Military cover for Air Defence. During that time Britannia aircraft of British Eagle provided transport for the British military. Comet 4C's were common traffic and the new VC10 arrived reducing flight time, rather than the 24hrs-with stops- of the Britannia.

In 1966, the company focused more on Singapore, buying Boeing 707s, headquartering itself in that country, and renaming itself Malaysia-Singapore Airlines – with a notable fluorescent yellow livery. Its primary hub became Paya Lebar, and services began to reach out further into North Asia.

From 1979 to 1980, British Airways, in conjunction with Singapore Airlines, began supersonic Concorde services from London's Heathrow Airport, to Paya Lebar Singapore.

Malaysia-Singapore Airlines was dissolved in 1972; Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines were formed – the latter keeping all the 707s; and Singapore Airlines remained at Paya Lebar. But passenger numbers rose from 1.7 million to 4 million between 1970 and 1975. The airport was constrained by housing estates and although some work was done to keep it operational in the meantime, construction began on the present Singapore International Airport at Changi in 1975, opening in 1981. Paya Lebar then closed to civil traffic, and Changi took over Paya Lebar's airport codes (SIN / WSSS).

Conversion to military use[edit]

Paya Lebar began to be gradually converted into a military air-force base from late 1967 onwards. During that year, an Air Movement Centre was constructed to handle passengers and cargo arriving on Republic of Singapore Air Force, and Ministry of Defence charter flights and foreign military aircraft. The original terminal building (painted green), maintenance hangar and control tower are retained. Access to terminal and hangars are off-limits closed off by a wired fence. It became a complete military airbase in 1981 when Singapore Changi Airport was opened and was subsequently renamed as Paya Lebar Air Base (PLAB) in the same year.

Paya Lebar Air Base[edit]

The air base currently houses aircraft such as the C-130 Hercules[5] and two squadrons of F-15SG Strike Eagles.

The flying squadrons are:

The support squadrons are:

  • Air Logistics Squadron (ALS)
  • Airfield Maintenance Squadron (AMS)
  • Field Defence Squadron (FDS)
  • Flying Support Squadron (FSS)

Former squadrons based here are:

Use by the United States Air Force[edit]

Besides being used by various flying units of United States Air Force and United States Navy (including United States Marine Corps Aviation) as a refuelling stopover and staging post/transit point, the base is also used permanently by the 497th Combat Training Squadron for other flight operations since 31 October 1991.[7]

Paya Lebar Air Base also plays host to USAF VIP aircraft as well. Air Force One landed at the base during President George W. Bush's two visits to Singapore in October 2003[8] and November 2006.[9]

Air Force Two carrying Vice-President Dick Cheney also made a refuelling stop and underwent minor repairs en route from Australia in 2007.[10]

The USAF Boeing 747-200 E-4B regularly lands at the base when the U.S. Secretary of Defense visits Singapore, as does the Boeing 757 C-32A that carries the Secretary of State.

On 14 November 2009, Air Force One carrying President Barack Obama landed at Paya Lebar Air Base to attend the APEC Singapore 2009 Summit.[11]

On 10 June 2018, President Donald Trump landed at the airbase for the 2018 North Korea–United States summit while North Korean leader Kim Jong Un landed at Changi Airport.

2018 North Korea–United States summit[edit]

PLAB was chosen to host Air Force One for the 12 June 2018 North Korea–United States summit between President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un.[12][13][14] Although early media reports speculated that Kim's Ilyushin Il-62 would land at PLAB, his plane landed at Singapore Changi Airport instead.[15]

On 6 June, Singapore's aviation authorities announced that temporary airspace restrictions will be put in place for parts of 11–13 June. Aircraft arriving at Singapore Changi Airport will be required to reduce speed and some restrictions are placed on runway use. Aviators were also informed to stay away from Paya Lebar Air Base as it is a facility used by US presidents on their previous visits to Singapore.[16][17] Kim landed in Singapore Changi Airport on 10 June.[18] After the summit, Trump and Air Force One left Singapore via PLAB at 6:30 pm Singapore Time.[19]

Photo gallery[edit]

Air Force Museum[edit]

The RSAF Museum

The RSAF maintains the Air Force Museum, which is open to the public and showcases the air force's history and capabilities. The museum is located at 400 Airport Road, Singapore 534234 beside the airbase. It went through an upgrade and update of the exhibits in 2015.

RSAF Open House[edit]

The RSAF Open House is an air show that is usually held at Paya Lebar Air Base. The Open House was most-recently held on 19 – 22 May 2016 and more than 220,000 people attended on the two public days of 21 – 22 May.


The old passenger terminal building and control tower still stands, though they now house air force units and are off-limits to the public. Nevertheless, much of the interior still remains intact and is almost completely preserved from the time it was first built.[20] The road which used to lead to the old passenger terminal is also still known as Airport Road.


The airbase will be relocated from 2030 onwards.[21] Expansion works are ongoing at Tengah Air Base and Changi Air Base to prepare for the eventual relocation of RSAF's assets after the closure of the airbase.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Airport information for WSAP at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.Source: DAFIF.
  2. ^ Airport information for QPG at Great Circle Mapper. Source: DAFIF (effective October 2006).
  3. ^ "The Door to Singapore". The Straits Times. 21 August 1955. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  4. ^ Kraal, Ivor (14 August 1955). "Singapore's Great Day". The Straits Times. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  5. ^ Leong, Wai Kit. "Two C-130 aircraft from Singapore scour seas for QZ8501". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  6. ^ "Inauguration of the RSAF's First Local F-15SG Squadron". MINDEF press release. 5 April 2010. Retrieved 5 April 2010.
  7. ^ "497th Combat Training Squadron (497th CTS)". United States Embassy to Singapore. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  8. ^ "Bush greeted by 'quiet reception' in Singapore – ASEAN/East Asia | The Star Online". The Star. Malaysia. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  9. ^ "President George W. Bush looks on as Laura Bush is greeted by Patricia L. Herbold, U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, upon their arrival at Paya Lebar Airport Thursday, Nov. 16, 2006, for a two-day visit. White House photo by Eric Draper". Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  10. ^ Bohan, Caren. "Cheney plane leaves Singapore after minor repairs". Reuters. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  11. ^ "Obama in Singapore for economic summit". Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  12. ^ "Trump may leave G-7 early for Singapore amid trade dispute". The Straits Times. 9 June 2018.
  13. ^ "Trump to land in Singapore on Sunday night, ahead of historic summit with Kim Jong-un". TODAYonline. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  14. ^ "Donald Trump to meet Kim Jong Un in Singapore: What you need to know about the historic summit". The Straits Times. 12 May 2018. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  15. ^ "North Korea's Kim Jong Un expected to land at Changi Airport on Sunday: Source". The Straits Times. 8 June 2018. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  16. ^ Karamjit, Kaur. "Restrictions on flights into Singapore during Trump-Kim summit: ICAO". The Straits Times. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  17. ^ Kim, Jack. "Singapore to restrict airspace during U.S.-North Korea summit". Reuters. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ Daven Wu (6 May 2009). "Paya Lebar Airport, Singapore". IPC Media's Wallpaper*. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  21. ^
  22. ^

External links[edit]

External images
image icon Overflight photo 1 of Paya Lebar Airport, 1962
image icon Overflight photo 2 of Paya Lebar Airport, 1962
image icon Overflight photo 3 of Paya Lebar Airport, 1962