This week, the latest iteration of the Singapore Armed Force’s Exercise Wallaby 2019 looked to kick off in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) with the various Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) helicopters completing systems check and familiarisation flights around and out of Rockhampton airport.
Local plane spotter Steve V has been on hand at Rockhampton Airport at various times during this week and has captured some great photos as the RSAF helicopters took to the air.
Three of the four RSAF Aerospatiale / Eurocopter AS332M Super Puma helicopters were photographed completing a flight from Rockhampton Airport to Shoalwater Bay and back. They were heard to use their 'usual' formation radio callsign of "Diamond".
Single Super Puma helicopters have also been noted completing systems check and familiarisation flights and have again been heard to use familiar radio callsign of "Starling". The RSAF Super Puma helicopters have been mostly flying in the afternoon.
As mentioned previously, all four Super Puma helicopters are reportedly flown by the RSAF's 126 Helicopter Squadron "Cougar" (126 SQN). Their motto is "Ready and Able", with the Cougar adopted as the squadron's motif.
Formed initially on 16 September 1992 at Sembawang Air Base in Singapore, the 126 SQN consisted of newly purchased Cougar helicopters, which were an upgraded version of the Super Puma helicopters then used by its sister squadron – 125 SQN. 126 Squadron was based at the Oakey Army Aviation Centre, supporting the Singapore Armed Force's training needs in Australia, however over the last year, the Squadron moved back to Singapore with Boeing CH-47D Chinook helicopters now deployed to Oakey on a full-time basis.
Meanwhile, originally completing systems check and familiarisation flights earlier in the week, were single RSAF Boeing AH-64D Apache helicopters. As the week went on, and as pictured below, they started completing sorties to Shoalwater Bay and back, flying in pairs during the late afternoon and evening.
The Apaches were again heard to be using their ‘usual’ radio callsign of "Avon" and "Atom".
As also mentioned previously, all four Apache helicopters are flown by the RSAF's 120 Squadron "Kestrel" (also known as the "Red Hawks") based at Sembawang Air Base in Singapore. The Squadron is the first and oldest RSAF operational squadron in service, first formed in 1969. The squadron goes by the motto of "Strive To Achieve".
And after deploying direct from their base at Oakey at the start of their week, the RSAF Boeing CH-47D Chinook helicopters also have been completing sorties to Shoalwater Bay and back as singles and in flights of two or even three. These flights also seem to occur from lunchtime through to the evening.
The Chinooks have been heard to be using their 'usual' radio callsigns of "Celtic" and "Cyclops".
Also as mentioned previously, the Chinook helicopters are flown by the RSAF's 127 Helicopter Squadron which is based at the Sembawang Air Base (SBAB) in Singapore, however as mentioned, with a detachment at Oakey.
The squadron goes by the motto of "Strength, Courage, Swiftness", the motto is supported by the squadron motif, a white horse in full battle armour.
Finally, it is believed that a RSAF Lockheed C-130H Hercules is still to 'deploy' to and remain at Rockhampton Airport for part of the Exercise.
It had also been speculated that heavy jet troop charter flights are due to start this weekend with as many as 10 flights expected to bring personnel and equipment in and out of Rockhampton Airport over the coming weeks. It is being reported that Royal Brunei Airlines and Air New Zealand will be operating these charter flights once again.
Exercise Wallaby first started in 1990 in Rockhampton and is a Singapore Army exercise based within the Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) as well as at Rockhampton Airport. This year will reportedly see as many as 4000 Singapore Armed Forces personnel participate in the Exercise.
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Sincere thanks to local plane spotter Steve V for taking the time capture and send through these great photos!
All photos taken by Steve Vit ©️