Watch search-and-rescue missions from home as RSAF open house goes fully virtual for first time

SINGAPORE – The Republic of Singapore Air Force’s (RSAF) open house is going fully online this year for the first time. People can now watch search-and-rescue missions and examine aircraft up close in the comfort of their homes.

The online open house site, launched on Friday (Dec 3), hosts a 3D virtual exhibition of more than 25 aircraft and ground-based air defence systems, online games and a series of videos that show RSAF pilots in action.

This is very different from open houses of years past when people could see and be awed by RSAF assets in person, but organisers said the constraints of Covid-19 meant they started planning for the likelihood of an online open house about a year ago.

They are hoping that it will give people a fresh perspective. “You can spin the assets around, zoom in and zoom out, look at them from different angles – we try to make it a bit more interactive,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Chua, head of the virtual open house.

“In the past, it would also have been difficult to get so many aircraft together for a physical exhibition, but we can do this online. People can click on each of them to see the specifications,” he added.

The open house is on till Dec 19, and the site’s content is refreshed regularly to get people to log in repeatedly. Videos go live at different times and they remain on the site after being published.

There are also step-by-step activities and challenges – requiring people to take a photo with their families and friends, or transform used materials into a custom-built aircraft – that will qualify participants to win prizes such as a reusable tote bag and the RSAF open house bear Captain Ted.

Guest hosts for the virtual open house include actor Gurmit Singh, and singers Annette Lee and Rai Kannu.

One highlight is the Singapore Youth Flying Club performing a simulated aerial aerobatics routine on video.

RSAF will also demonstrate how it responds to aerial threats and performs search-and-rescue missions.

Colonel Amos Yeo, chairman of the open house organising committee and commander of air power generation command, said RSAF is aiming to reach 80,000 to 100,000 people with the virtual open house.

“The RSAF open house is a means for us to engage the public and to thank the public for their strong support over the years. Given the Covid-19 situation, we looked at the various options and determined that a virtual event would be a novel, meaningful and effective means of achieving these objectives,” he said.

“This is an opportunity for us to reach out to a new demographic, to people who would not have previously come to the airbase,” he added.

At the virtual launch of the open house on Friday, Senior Minister of State for Defence Zaqy Mohamad said RSAF has adapted during Covid-19 to continually train using technologies and simulator systems.

He said people visiting the virtual exhibition should look out for RSAF’s latest additions to its arsenal, such as the Aster 30 missile system, the new Chinook CH-47F heavy lift helicopter and the H225M medium lift helicopter.

He also noted RSAF’s efforts in August to help with the evacuation of Afghans. Using the Airbus Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft, RSAF flew more than 2,000 people out of the crisis zone in Afghanistan.

“This mission is an example of how RSAF’s spectrum of operations has evolved over the years, and how it can reach further, operate faster and more effectively to achieve outcomes,” he said.

The open house website can be accessed at here.