As it forges ahead into the rapidly evolving security landscape of the 21st Century, the RSAF remains a credible fighting force with a strong international standing.
All this is only made possible with the world-class people, dedicated men and women of talent that few others can match. The commitment of RSAF officers to the defence of Singaporean skies is unparalleled. Two such officers are LTC Timothy Ang and MAJ Lee Mei Yi as they tell us about their vibrant and fulfilling careers with the RSAF.
A United Force
LTC Ang had always wanted a career that would challenge him and enable him to make a difference. After his first taste of military life at Basic Military Training (BMT) and Officer Cadet School (OCS), the 31-year-old knew that he wanted to serve the nation in the capacity of the military, ultimately choosing to serve in the RSAF. He explains, “The RSAF held a special appeal to me because of the strategic nature of air power and the sophistication of aviation technology.”
MAJ Lee Mei Yi
SAF Merit (Women) Scholar
Designation: F-16D+ Fighter Pilot, 145 SQN
Studied: Master of Arts (Arts and Social Sciences), Columbia University, US
Bachelor of Arts in Economics,
University of Chicago, US
As for MAJ Lee, she wanted a career that was meaningful and intellectually stimulating. “Above all, I wanted to do something that served a higher purpose,” she declares.
This is why the allure of the sky proved irresistible for MAJ Lee. She was not contented with working at a desk-bound job, and had always enjoyed the idea of treading off the beaten path. So when she was awarded the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Merit Scholarship, it was only natural that she accepted it.
As an SAF Overseas Scholar, LTC Ang is now serving as the Commanding Officer of 116 Squadron. LTC Ang’s unit serves as our eyes in the sky. He elaborates, “We fly the Hermes-450 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), a remotely-piloted battlefield surveillance platform, in order to gather crucial information. By gathering intelligence through battlefield surveillance and reconnaissance, we are able to contest the new frontier of information warfare and support the air force with vital information.” He also ensures that the men and women under his charge are always operationally ready to respond to any emergency as quickly as possible.
MAJ Lee is now serving as an operational fighter pilot in 145 Squadron at Changi Air Base (East), where she pilots an F-16D+ fighter jet.
Her unit works together with Air Traffic Controllers and Ground-based Air Defence units in order to ensure that the skies are safe. She is always ready and prepared to suit up and defend Singapore’s skies at a moment’s notice. “When I am activated, I will drop whatever I’m doing and conduct a scramble take-off to intercept any possible airborne threats,” she says determinedly.
Although LTC Ang and MAJ Lee serve different roles in the RSAF, both of them are part of a united force working together to keep our skies safe.
Progress and Advancement
The RSAF is constantly innovating and upgrading. On her part, MAJ Lee’s commitment towards self-improvement was apparent during university days. As a student studying in New York City, MAJ Lee took up an internship at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), an organisation that publishes the quarterly Foreign Affairs political science journal. She recalls, “While I was there, I took the opportunity to observe the CFR dialogue sessions with foreign dignitaries, US government officials, senior US military officers and various prominent academics. This also enabled me to broaden my understanding of current affairs and foreign policy. The knowledge I gained there has since proved valuable throughout my career in the RSAF.”
This process of continuously upgrading herself has continued with the many opportunities that the RSAF offers. MAJ Lee regularly participates in training exercises and missions, conducted both locally and overseas, in order to upgrade her skills as a fighter pilot.
LTC Timothy Ang Pei-Zheng
SAF Overseas Scholar
Designation: Commanding Officer (CO) of 116 SQN, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Pilot
Studied: Master of Studies in Modern History, University of Oxford, UK
Bachelor of Arts in History, University of Cambridge, UK
On LTC Ang’s part, he expounds on the merits of innovation in the RSAF on the technological front, extolling the virtues of UAV systems. He enthuses, “The Hermes-450 UAV that my squadron operates is one of the next-generation UAV systems that the SAF operates in order to strengthen our battlefield surveillance capabilities.”
He carries on excitedly, saying, “I enjoy being part of one of the biggest growth stories in the SAF at the moment. It is exciting to be flying UAVs at a time when the scope of UAV operations is rapidly expanding in armed forces across the world. I am proud to have a hand in exploring this new frontier and it excites me to think about the myriad possibilities that are opened up by cutting-edge UAV technology.”
For the People
It is their commitment to the people that motivates the men and women of the RSAF, and LTC Ang and MAJ Lee are no exceptions to that rule. Whether it is the nation, their family, or their colleagues, the chance to play a key role in keeping their loved ones safe is what keeps them going.
LTC Ang is married with two children, and his devotion to his family forms a large part of his motivation. While his hectic work schedule may make it difficult to spend time with his family, he is grateful to be surrounded by understanding commanders. LTC Ang extends the same understanding to the men and women under his charge, always striving to do his best for them.
“I derive great fulfilment from knowing that I have made a positive difference to the people I work with. I also treasure the friendships I have forged with many of my colleagues over the years and the camaraderie that we share in the squadron,” he declares.
When asked if he has any advice for aspiring RSAF scholars, LTC Ang says, smiling, “They will need to ask themselves the key questions of whether they feel a calling to defend the nation and are looking for a dynamic, people-oriented job.” These questions may seem simple, but it is the ability of RSAF officers to answer them with conviction that makes the RSAF such a formidable force.
MAJ Lee concurs that one must indeed have the passion to serve the people if they choose to pursue a career in the Air Force. “The greater purpose behind my job keeps me going. I know that I must overcome all challenges and excel at what I do in order to fulfil my duties as an SAF soldier and not let my squadron mates down!”