Procurement: April 17, 2004

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The Singapore Armed Forces has quietly done a major spring cleaning of its helicopter fleet, retiring 40 helicopters since the start of the year. But because of the high standards of service and maintenance that the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has practiced, all these helicopters have quickly found interested buyers in the used aircraft market.

Earlier this year, the RSAF's fleet of 20 veteran UH-1H Huey transport helicopters were refurbished and sold to the Philippines Air Force for $12 million, where they will be put to welcome use in anti-insurgency operations in the Southern Philippine islands.

Now the RSAF has retired its 20 AS.550 Eurocopter Fennec helicopters, 10 of which are cannon and rocket armed A2 scout/trainers, and 10 of which are Heli-TOW C2 armed versions. The Fennecs are 'only' 13 years old, relatively young for second-hand military aircraft, and have already attracted interest from New Zealand, which is seeking to purchase some Fennecs of both types to replace its five 35 year old Bell 47 Sioux helicopters, the 'Medevac' helicopters of Korean War and M.A.S.H. fame.

Buying the TOW armed Fennec will give the New Zealand Air Force its first ever anti-tank helicopter, quite a consideration for the RNZAF as it currently has no means of providing air support to its ground troops.

The RSAF purchased the TOW armed Fennecs in 1993 as a means of acquiring a relatively cheap anti-tank helicopter capability for its pilots to gain experience in anti-tank operations. Once it was felt that RSAF helicopter pilots had sufficient experience, Singapore then purchased 20 AH-64D Longbow Apaches, rendering the Fennecs surplus to RSAF requirements. The first AH-64Ds are scheduled for delivery to Singapore this year.

The RSAF has also increased its fleet of CH-47SD Chinooks, and at the end of this year will select the winning bid for 8 medium ASW helicopters.

 


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