FPDA 2021 50th Anniversary

The Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) member-nations – Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom – commemorated the FPDA 50th anniversary this afternoon at Marina South, with a flypast and a naval vessel display put up by member-nations at the conclusion of Exercise Bersama Gold 2021.

FPDA 2021 50th Anniversary

The weather during the event was warm, humid and the overcast skies were hazy. Coupled with noon flypast (top lighting from the noon sun), all these combined to make a photographer’s quest a nightmare. But looking on the bright side, there was no thunderstorm, which happens in this tropical monsoon season.

FPDA 2021 50th Anniversary

The big guns were out during the event, as usual. Won’t be the same without them. In this picture, a Canon EF600mm F4L IS MkII is mounted on Canon EOS R5 with an EF-RF adapter.

This picture sums up pretty how we felt about the hazy skies – “no eyes to see”.

The aerial flypast and naval vessels

Event update by The Republic of Singapore Air Force. Illustration copyrighted to The RSAF.

FPDA 2021 50th Anniversary

The RSS Steadfast in the foreground and the HMAS Canberra berthed at the waterfront fronting the Marina Barrage.

FPDA 2021 50th Anniversary

The Seasprite lifted off the HMNZS Aotearoa, an auxiliary ship of the Royal New Zealand Navy. Builder Hyundai Heavy Industries delivered the ship to the navy in June 2020, and she was commissioned into service on 29 July 2020, with full operational capability expected to be achieved in 2021.

FPDA 2021 50th Anniversary

An RSAF Chinook arrived to record prime aerial footages of the event.

Hovering around the bay, the Chinook is like a huge video and still-pictures manned drone.

FPDA 2021 50th Anniversary

The Sea Sprite in the picture above is an American ship-based helicopter with anti-submarine, anti-surface threat capability, including over-the-horizon targeting. The aircraft enhances shipboard sensors and weapon capabilities against several types of enemy threats, including all types of submarines, surface ships, and patrol craft that may be armed with anti-ship missiles. 

HMAS Canberra (L02) is the first ship of the Canberra-class landing helicopter dock operated by the Royal Australian Navy and is the second largest in the navy, succeeded by its sister ship HMAS Adelaide. Construction of the ship started in Spain in 2008, with the hull launched by Navantia in 2011.

FPDA 2021 50th Anniversary

The 1st flypast profile – The three RSAF F15SG and three F16C/Ds in delta formation.

Right overhead, silhouetted by the noon sun.

The 2nd flypast profile – 2 RSAF S-70Bs and 1 RNZN SH-2G(I), this trio flew below the planes as part of the middle profile.

FPDA 2021 50th Anniversary

The 2nd flypast profile involved ten air assets from Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. This included an RSAF F-16 and F-15SG fighter jets, two SU-30MKM fighters from Royal Malaysian Air Force and two F/A-18Fs fighters from the Royal Australian Air Force. The jet fighters are trailed by a New Zealand’s Lockheed P-3K2 Orion airborne surveillance aircraft.

FPDA 2021 50th Anniversary

A lovely flypast profile – a profile of friendship over 50 years.

FPDA 2021 50th Anniversary

The Russian SU-30MKM tends to emit more smoky exhaust. Russian jet engines flame tend to be of a bluish hue and emit thicker smoke – in general, cooler combustion and turbine temperatures lead to incomplete combustion and the formation of soot. Many of the earlier engines from the Soviet era used low-cost materials, allowing only cooler temperatures – hence more soot.

FPDA 2021 50th Anniversary

The Sea Sprite returning to the HMNZS Aotearoa flight deck, displacing lots of seawater.

FPDA 2021 50th Anniversary

The 3rd and final profile, two displays from RSAF fighter jets, which performed a delta flypast (F15SG) and aerial salute (F16).

Conclusion

This momentous event signifies the endearing friendship between the five nations. Prior to this, a two-week joint exercise had taken place, known as Exercise Bersama Gold in honour of the FPDA’s golden jubilee. This is the first FPDA exercise held since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and involved some 2,600 military personnel, air and maritime sea training exercises, and a virtual jungle warfare workshop.

I hope the alliance will remain robust and our next generation of children will be able to witness the 100th anniversary of this extraordinary friendship. For other events happening locally, you might like to check it out here.

Footnote: All pictures used in this travelogue are copyrighted to Jensen Chua Photography and all rights reserved. The opinion expressed is factual, objective and that of the author.

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