Alternate Runway Operations

RSAF F-16 engaging the mobile arresting gear during the exercise. Alert 5 picture.

SHAH ALAM: Alternate Runway Operations. I know this a website on Malaysian Defence but sometimes we need to look outside the box. In this case, down south, where the RSAF had conducted Exercise Torrent 2016, the alternate runway operations.

The alternate runway exercise was conducted on Sunday where four F-15SGs, four F-16 C/Ds and four F-16D + took off and landed from a public road which had been converted into a temporary runway.

A RSAF F-15SG landing at Exercise Torrent 2016. Alert 5 picture.
A RSAF F-15SG landing at Exercise Torrent 2016. Alert 5 picture.

The RSAF fighter jets also alternated between take off and landings on the Lim Chu Kang Road to the adjacent RSAF Tengah airbase, which actually ran pararel to the road. It is actually possible to convert the road as the third and fourth runways, if the Singapore authorities wishes to do so.

A RSAF F-15SG Strike Eagle prepare for take off during Exercise Torrent 2016. Alert 5 picture.
A RSAF F-15SG Strike Eagle prepare for take off during Exercise Torrent 2016. Alert 5 picture.

The last time Exercise Torrent was held was back in 2008 so the Strike Eagles were still not around. So this year they made the belated debut.

RSAF F-16D Block 52 landing during Exercise Torrent 2016. Alert 5 picture.
RSAF F-16D Block 52 landing during Exercise Torrent 2016. Alert 5 picture.

RSAF had started alternate runway exercise in 1986 and this was the seventh exercise to be conducted. At this year’s exercise, RSAF also debut their mobile arresting gear which acted as the same system on board aircraft carriers.

RSAF F-16 engaging the mobile arresting gear during the exercise. Alert 5 picture.
RSAF F-16 engaging the mobile arresting gear during the exercise. Alert 5 picture.

The use of the mobile arresting gear – which is meant to stop aircraft during emergencies – is interesting as it make it perfectly suitable for our F/A-18D Hornets to take part in such an exercise. The big question is whether RMAF will be interested even if RSAF come asking?

Soldiers from Singapore Army in action during training with the Malaysian Army during Eks Semangat Bersatu in Johor, last week. BTDM picture.
Soldiers from Singapore Army in action during training with the Malaysian Army during Eks Semangat Bersatu in Johor, last week. BTDM picture.

There are several other roads in Singapore which can be turned into runways in emergencies but normally they will choose the Lim Chu Kang road, probably not to create too much havoc in the island republic.

— Malaysian Defence

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16 Comments

  1. If i may ask, why the alternative runway is just next to Tengah airbase? During conflict, if an adversary can take out Tengah runway, the alternative runway is just a few meters away. So what’s the point of the exercise?

    Other nationx do it as an off base alternative and to disperse these assets. Captain please..

    Reply
    You can ask but its RSAF that can give the best answer. Personally I think having it at Lim Chu Kang Road is the least disruptive and cheapest way to conduct the exercise

  2. Hmm….there arer at least 11 of such roads that old ns guys like me know of and that is 2 decade ago. This is just an exercise.

    I didnt know they install arrestor gear.

    Reply
    Perhaps by having it at Lim Chu Kang Road they also wanted to preserve the secret of the other reserve runways. Most of us will not know these locations but any straight road that goes for 1.5 mile is a potential runway.

  3. @ Marhalim,

    TUDM already has the arresting gear for ages, at the TUDM Kuantan runway. You can see the mechanism from the public road, it is under the semicircular shed with red and white stripes at the sides of the runway.

    Reply
    I am not saying that they dont have it

  4. “Hmm….there arer at least 11 of such roads that old ns guys like me know of and that is 2 decade ago.”

    Please don’t talk ..ck. There aren’t 11 such roads that can be converted. A simple look at the map and Google Street View will tell you which roads can be used. What may look like a straight road on the map may instead have uneven terrain, a concrete median that is not easily removed or trees and buildings by the side. Even meeting all these criteria, the road has to be constructed to withstand the ground pressure of aircraft landing or it will cave in.

    Besides Lim Chu Kang Road, the only usable road is East Coast Parkway expressway. The median is made up of flower boxes that can be dragged aside. Take a look at the map, the expressway is connected to Bedok camp and a few car parks, and is next to two golf courses. These areas can be used for aircraft parking and ground services.

    What the RSAF has done in recent years is lengthen other base runways, such as Seletar (now a civilian airport) and Sembawang (Sembawang is primarily a helicopter base but the runway has arresting gear).

    They have also ensured that taxiways are wide and long enough to be used as runways.

    These are recent developments and not “two decades ago.” You are welcome to look up the historical satellite map data.

    Arguably, it is important not just to have alternate runways but also to have ground services close to your runway, so you can have high have sortie rates. So having multiple runways available per base makes perfect sense.

    Also, in the unlikely event that the RSAF is caught by surprised and the primary runways are damaged, these alternate runways and roads can be used by aircraft that would otherwise be stuck in their shelters.

    zulu “If i may ask, why the alternative runway is just next to Tengah airbase?”

    You can check this one on Street View. In the specific case of Tengah Air Base, the base has a gate that is normally closed. Once open, aircraft can taxi directly from their shelters to Lim Chu Kang Road. Aircraft at Tengah Air Base have direct access to an alternative runway and ground services as mentioned above.

    Reply
    What about the road in Tuas? is that usable?

  5. Dear Am, it is up to you to believe it or not. I was not making a suggestion at all. Some things r just hard to belief until u see it. That include the arrestor gear.

  6. Marhalim, “What about the road in Tuas? is that usable?”

    You may be referring to Tuas South Avenue 5. Although this road is long, straight, wide and has no median structures, the space is actually reserved for the future MRT line.

    In this case, they’ve allowed trees and industrial buildings next to the road and not provided any parking areas like at East Coast Parkway. In comparison, East Coast Parkway and Lim Chu Kang Road have almost no buildings next to the road. LCK has no trees nearby and the trees at ECP will be cut down in emergency.

    Have a look at Paya Lebar. They have a huge new taxiway that is connected to the aircraft shelters and also has an aircraft servicing/rearming area.

  7. “Dear Am, it is up to you to believe it or not. I was not making a suggestion at all. Some things r just hard to belief until u see it. That include the arrestor gear.”

    Believe me, I have driven on every road down there and the only ones that are long, wide and straight without a median or buildings to demolish are those two. Please point out if I have missed any.

    The real value to the RSAF is in all the runways and taxiways at their air bases and Changi airport, where infrastructure is already in place and can support sustained operations with high sortie rates.

    BTW, we had this discussion last year. I pointed out that SBAB (Sembawang) runway is being extended and has an arrestor gear visible on Google. I was suggesting that closing down PLAB does not have a large impact on the RSAF because SBAB has room to expand and indeed is being expanded. PLAB has a large urban area to the south that can be redeveloped once the height restriction is removed. SBAB only has a nature reserve before the runway and the land is less valuable.

  8. Has anyone considered the possibility that such a capability is not meant for use on Singapore island itself?

    Reply
    Which one?

  9. “Has anyone considered the possibility that such a capability is not meant for use on Singapore island itself?”

    Of course, but the RSAF fighter inventory and its qualitative advantages are large, and their range is more than sufficient with CFTs and inflight refuelling (provided by 6x A330) that it hardly seems necessary. PGM use is widespread which reduces the number of sorties needed.

    The RSAF may have plans to operate on a foreign road, whose load bearing ability is unknown, not knowing if it will be captured in damaged or reparable condition, far from its logistical base and outside the island air defence network. But it seems unlikely to me.

    Reply
    I think it will be more logical to have plans to operate from a captured airport though it is also likely to have contigency plans to operate from an alternate runway as well.

  10. That old lim chu kang road was suppose to be an alternative runway way way back when RSAF was not as strong as NOW..and they have not have any training ground overseas…but now everything change that runway is meant for training purposes….they have australia..india..thailand..burma…if RSAF wants to use their airbase in emergency case…if not why they bought the refulling vessel for? Just my thoughts

  11. Hi RedSot, your revelation of RSAF could use the air bases in Australia, Thailand, India and(seriously?) Myammar could be too far fetch, these are training bases. Asking the host nation that, i will arming my assets and launch strikes from these bases are another thing.

    Maybe RSAF could, but that bring these host nation entangled with the conflict and open itself to the conflict. Anyway, it is probable but possible? and debatable

  12. Haha encik zulu…that is wat the SG like about malaysia..their thinking and military doctrine are too predictable…then why do you think they buy 6 pieces of refueling vessel for? If ever malaysia is a real threat to SG malayland will be attack in 3 direction…north…east…west….im no academic scholars but the way they do things are different then their neighbours…that arrestor is for training purposes just letting their pilot get use to the arrestor jerks….who knows in the future singapore will be ready to sail their 1st mini aircraft carrier….

  13. woah chill bros. this post is for sharing and no other ya. Each has its own requirements, let’s live it at that ya.

  14. marhalim news for the 2 vessel donated by japan to APMM coming soon?

    Reply
    The acceptance documents was signed during PMs visit to Japan. Delivery most likely next year, exactly when is beyond me at the moment

  15. Palpoo: “woah chill bros. this post is for sharing and no other ya. Each has its own requirements, let’s live it at that ya.”

    I am chill even when disproving wild claims that are not only patently false, but also easily refutable by anyone with access to Google Maps. As you said, this is a place for sharing and not for propagandizing, which to some people is synonymous with patriotism.

    Redsot: “that arrestor is for training purposes just letting their pilot get use to the arrestor jerks, who knows in the future singapore will be ready to sail their 1st mini aircraft carrier”

    F-35B does not have a tail hook. Only the F-35C can perform an arrested carrier landing which requires a large, angled deck CATOBAR carrier. Also, the issue in carrier landing is the precision of the touch down, not the jerk.

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