The Lim Chu Kang Road in the northern part of Singapore has been in the news lately, as it has temporarily been shut down for Operation Torrent, 2016, an exercise conducted by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) which includes conducting simultaneous launch and recovery operations from Lim Chu Kang road and Tengah Air Force Base.
Exercises like these have proven to be very useful in the past, when in a state of military emergency. Air Forces around the world play a vital role in the military defence capabilities of their countries, but they are restricted to operating from strategically located air force bases, which sometimes might not be close to the location where the action would actually be needed. The Navy came up with Aircraft carriers just to solve this mobility problem, but they too are confined to the ocean and sometimes might not be very helpful in a mainland based fight, and this is where (Advanced Landing Ground) ALG’s and Highway landing strips help a lot.
IAF C 130J-30 SUPER HERCULES MAKES AN HISTORIC LANDING AT DAULAT BEG OLDIE (DBO) ON 20 Aug 2013
Singapore is the first South East Asian country to perform such an exercise, but what makes this more interesting is that alongside the F-16s, the RSAF used their F-15 SG in this exercise, which is in all probability the first time an F-15 SG has been used in a road landing, though other variants of the F-15 have been used in alternate runway landings before, South Korean F-15 K’s used in road landing and take-off’s in 2008 stand as an example. The F-15, more commonly known in the aviation world as the ‘Eagle’ has been an important part of the United States Air Force for a long time now, and the RSAF bought many variations of the F-15 from the United States of America, the best one probably being the F-15 SG. The RSAF operates a fleet of 24 F-15 SG’s which is the hottest most-equipped version in the F-15 series.
RSAF F-15 SG landing at the Lim Chu Kang Road in Northern Singapore
Take a standard F-15, add APG-63(V)3 AESA Radar, Sniper XR EO/laser targeting pod, AAS-43 Tiger Eyes IRST (Infrared search-and-track system), an ALQ-135M system, an NVG-compatible cockpit, JHMCS(Joint Helmet Mounting Cueing System) and also the ability to launch a wide array of advanced weapons like the AIM-9X Sidewinder, the AIM-120C AMRAAM, the AGM-154 JSOW(Joint Stand Off Weapon), the SDB(Small Diameter Bomb) etc. then replace the Engines in the base variant of the F-15 with General Electric F-110-GE-129 engines, and one ends up with the F-15 SG.
The RSAF F-15 SG with its wide Array of Weapons
The F-15 SG is a front-line strike fighter jet in the RSAF which makes Operation Torrent 2016 very important. Alternative Runways were first found to be very important during World War II and then now in the last decade. Finnish Air Force F/A-18 Hornets, Belarusian Yak 130s and SU-25s regularly perform alternative runway exercises and even United States Air Force A-10 Thunderbolts have performed Highway landings in the past.
The Indian Air Force is not to be left far behind in this regard, as it recently made news when they landed one of their gigantic transport aircraft, the C-17 Globemaster at the mechuka airstrip, an ALG(advanced Landing Ground) in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, just 30 kilometres from the Chinese border. This alternative runway can serve as a strategic asset, especially given that hostilities exist between the two countries. It is to be noted that this area is a two-day road journey away from the nearest commercial airport and railway station, and the landing by the largest aircraft in the Indian Air Force C-17 Globemaster, is a big boost to the troop transportation capabilities of the Indian Defence Organisations.
The IAF C-17 Globemaster landing at Mechuka ALG
In May, 2015, the Indian Air Force had performed a highway landing with a Mirage 2000 Jet fighter on the Yamuna Expressway near the National Capital Region, and said that it was on the lookout for more stretches of highways where such landings are feasible.
Image Credits : Google Images, The Aviationist