Singapore's S-70B Seahawks enter service

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Singapore has inaugurated its six Sikorsky S-70B seaborne helicopters, establishing its first organic naval aviation capability.

The aircraft will join the Participation Command of the Republic of Singapore Air Force's 123 Sqn, says Singapore's defence ministry. The Participation Command was created in 2007 "to develop and deploy air power in support of land and maritime operations".

The Seahawks can be deployed from the country's six Formidable-class frigates. They arrived in Singapore in 2010 after a one-year deployment in San Diego, California.

© Singapore defence ministry Cyberpioneer

"The integration of the naval helicopters with the frigates enables the Singapore armed forces to undertake anti-surface and anti-submarine missions at longer ranges," the defence ministry says. "Each frigate's sophisticated command, control and communications suite allows it to network with a wide variety of assets to increase force-level awareness and mission effectiveness."

Although Singapore's territorial waters are limited, it sees the ability to project naval power as essential, given its location at the southern end of the strategic Straits of Malacca. Its warships also have participated in the international task force operating off the Horn of Africa to deter piracy, and in humanitarian operations.

Singapore has also shown an interest in possibly acquiring several of the US Navy's surplus Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, the type's manufacturer has revealed. A letter of request has been issued, and the nation could be interested in four or five refurbished aircraft.

Five Fokker 50 maritime patrol aircraft are already in use by the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

Watch the Singapore defence ministry's video about the inauguration