Singapore Armed Forces Parachute Team

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The Singapore Armed Forces Parachute Team (SAFPT) is best known for its free-fall displays at the annual National Day Parade held in Singapore since its first appearance in 1989 as a formalised team, although members of the Singapore Commandos Formation had put on sporadic displays since the 1970s. Primarily responsible for organising display jumps and representing the Singapore Armed Forces in competitions, the team adopted the name Red Lions in 1996 as part of its team identity. In 2014, Third Warrant Officer Shirley Ng became the first female Red Lion parachutist to jump at the National Day Parade in Singapore. [1] [2] They made their latest appearance at NDP 2017 during the pre-parade segment after bad weather during NDP 2015 and security reasons parachuting through the national stadium in NDP 2016 prevented them from doing so.[3]

Organisation

The SAFPT comprises two entities: the display jumpers themselves, and the "central nucleus". Basic qualification for a display jumper is a minimum of 180 jumps, with its members drawn only from amongst the Commandos and the Naval Diving Unit as they are the only formations which are operationally trained in military free-fall. Training is usually conducted on weekends to avoid affecting operational responsibilities during the work week, as all free-fallers are also full-time servicemen.

The central nucleus supports the display team's logistical and administrative needs, and plan and co-ordinate their training programme. As such, most of them are Parachute Jump Instructors from the Parachute Training Wing.

Competitions

As representing the SAF is one of the team's two main responsibilities, the SAFPT has participated and won awards in various competitions such as the Malaysia Prime Minister Challenge Trophy for Accuracy and the Australian Defence Force Parachuting Championship for Accuracy.

The SAF's Red Lions Parachuting Team from the Commando Formation defeated 16 teams from 11 countries to set the new Asiania Four-way FS record and clinch the top award in the 12th Asiania Four-Way Formation Skydiving Championship, held from 29 October to 7 November at Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. The team, from the Commando Formation, also achieved the 1st Runner's Up position behind a team from Russia in the 1st Fujairah International Open Category Four-Way Formation Skydiving Championships in 2008. [1]

Safety

Attention paid towards training safety has resulted in few incidents affecting team members, although a bad fall during a full-dress rehearsal for the 2005 National Day Parade by Master Sergeant Chua Koon San[4] raised concerns and speculation that the free-fall performances may be cancelled. The Ministry of Defence however issued a reassurance that the show would carry on.[5]

References

  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 October 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  2. ^ YEO SAM JO. "Second chance for first female Red Lion at National Day Parade". The Straits Times. Retrieved 9 November 2015. 
  3. ^ http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/red-lions-get-set-to-soar-again-at-ndp
  4. ^ "Red Lion Freefaller Injured" (press release). Ministry of Defence (Singapore). 9 July 2005. 
  5. ^ Rita Zahara (13 July 2005). "Mindef says it will not cancel free-fall show at NDP". Channel NewsAsia. 
  • Red Lions Interview
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