Singapore by day

Compact and energetic, the Singapore Airshow mirrors the traits shown by its host city-state, forever bustling with new ideas and notions.

But it did feel like there was something missing, with the show interesting but passing by without the headline sale or announcement that events of this kind thrive on.

Often such announcements don’t necessarily have to be full product orders, rather statements of intent from both OEM and customer. Take last year’s Dubai Air Show for example, which was going along relatively quietly until Saab and the then AgustaWestland got in on the act with some eye-catching revelations.

And that is what was really lacking in Singapore.

That said, defence hacks are a (mostly) canny bunch and know a smokescreen from a firework display, or a product launch from an upgrade. If there’s no headline to be had, don’t make one up.

So what did we learn?

ST Engineering were also busy in a more general sense, befitting a ‘local’ company and regularly found themselves inundated with eager visitors during the trade days. Quite what must have been the scene for the public days is anyone’s to guess, although a couple of company officials did confide to the Shephard team it would be taxing.

Their stand had some eye-catching displays, including the new third-generation Bronco resplendent in a rather pleasing green. Intercepts from the Shephard psy-ops team revealed general background chatter about a hybrid UAV/UUV in the offing, although development was very much still at an early stage.

RUAG Aviation meanwhile wanted people to know that there are other MPAs and MSAs players in town, and made some justifiable noise as the first Dornier 228NG aircraft will roll of the line and into the waiting arms of a customer later this year.

Airbus Helicopters said at the show they were making the Australian Army’s Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter programme a top priority, no doubt to the relief of the customer, who have experienced a few issues with the 22 aircraft in the recent past.

Unmanned MCM was also fairly topical, no surprise really given the location, with ST Electronics and Elbit showing off a couple of proposed solutions.

We also learned that Finmeccanica is developing a hybrid engine for their Project Zero tiltrotor, as senior officials discussed the limitations of electric powered vertical aircraft.

And training is ramping up for the Royal Australian Air Force’s fleet of C-27J Spartan tactical transports, proud bearer of the coolest name in the air.

Not to forget that the organisers hadn’t quite managed to erect the fences around all the static aircraft for the start of the trade days, allowing some all the aviation geeks to get pretty up close and personal. They had managed to deter approaches to the lurking Raptors though.

So all told there was more than enough to keep us going, despite the above reservations. Feel free to check out the Shephard News website to catch up on whatever you missed and really explore what our team managed to get up to (on site).

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