How does the RSAF train their pilots?

To being your career in the RSAF, you simply need to put in your application. The RSAF receives thousands of …

To being your career in the RSAF, you simply need to put in your application. The RSAF receives thousands of applications every year. So to stand out from the rest of the applicants, you must have shown interest in aviation, either through your participation in Singapore Youth Flying Club or related activities.

RSAF Training

For most, training starts after Basic Military Training. BMT. As a prerequisite, the individual must meet the minimum requirements for OCS before being accepted into Pilot Training. Trainees will be sent to Air Force Training Command (AFTC) where the trainee will be put through a preparation ground school for Air Grading.

Air Grading

Air Grading, as the name suggests, is more like a selection process than a training programme. Air Grading will be done in Tamworth, Australia. The RSAF leases the CT4B from the RAAF at Tamworth and operates a small training school with about 10 permanent staff. During Air Grading, RSAF trainees are put through 15 sorties to determine the aptitude of the trainee. Historically, at least 50% of the trainees drop out at this stage and many before the completion of the 15 sorties. Typically it will take 1 month to complete the 15 sorties.

OCS

After completing and passing Air Grading, the trainees will be sent to Officer Cadet School where they undergo the Common Leadership Module (CLM) and after that the Air Force Service Term (AFST). This training phase is entirely residential, and you learn crappy things like jungle warfare, etc. OCS Phase typically lasting 9 weeks,

BWC & Ground School

After OCS, the trainees return to AFTC for their ground school for Basic Wing Course (BWC). After 3 months in ground school where they learn basic aviation topics like aerodynamics, meteorology, airframe/engine, instruments, navigation, they are sent to Pearce Air Force Base, Perth, Australia, for the BWC. BWC lasts about 9–12 months. At BWC, trainees are trained to fly in state of the art PC-21 turboprop trainer. These planes are operated and owned by the RSAF, and the instructors are also RSAF pilots who are sent there as permanent staff. At the end of the BWC, trainees are streamed to Fighters, Rotary or Transport.

Fighters

Fighter trainees are generally sent to France where the RSAF’s 150 Squadron is located at. 150 Squadron operates the M346 jet trainer. This is where trainees are taught the basics of being a fighter pilot. Instead of being streamed to 150 Squadron, fighter trainees are also occasionally streamed to NFTC, Canada or SUPT, United States of America, for training. This is usually based on training slot availability. Fighter training generally takes 9 months to 1 year to complete.

Rotary (Helicopter)

Rotary trainees are sent for training in Singapore where they fly the EC-120. The EC-120 is operated by the RSAF and maintained by ST Aerospace in a private-government partnership. Generally, takes 6 months.

Transport

Transport trainees are also trained in Singapore. Training is partially outsourced to ST Aerospace. Transport training generally takes 6 months.

Graduation

After completion of the Fighter, Rotary or transport training, the trainees finally achieve their wings. From BMT to getting their wings, Fighter pilots take about 2 years to 2.5 years, while Rotary and Transport trainees take about 1.75 years to 2 years.

RSAF training bond

It is after getting their wings that all RSAF pilots are obliged to complete a 10-year training bond with the RSAF. I mean, expensive pilot training can’t come for free, right?

Operational Training

It is after getting their wings do RSAF pilots get streamed to their individual aircraft type to learn how to operate their respective aircraft type. From here, training to be operationally ready takes about 1 year. From being operationally ready to operational wingman another 1 year. From being an operational wingman to an operational flight lead another 1 year. So all in all, it takes RSAF 5–6 years to train someone to become an operational flight lead.

Other resources

If you are interested to find out how much an RSAF pilot makes, or the career options for an RSAF pilot after their 10-year bond, or read about the other options to be a pilot in Singapore.

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