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RSAF Black Knights
Insignia of the RSAF Black Knights
Founded1973; 50 years ago (1973)
Country  Singapore
Branch  Republic of Singapore Air Force
Role Aerobatics
Size6 aircraft
Garrison/HQ Tengah Air Base
Colours  Red
LTC Joseph Leong
Aircraft flown
Fighter F-16C

The Black Knights is the official aerobatics team of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) featuring six F-16Cs Fighting Falcon in formation flight. The Black Knights' emblem is sported on the red vertical tail of each of the team's aircraft and the team's name is emblazoned on both sides of the aircraft which are painted in red and white—the national colours of Singapore. [1]


Black Knights perform crossing maneuver

The team was commissioned in 1973 initially as the Osprey Red, five years after the creation of the RSAF and eight years as an independent nation. In 1974, the team was renamed as the Black Knights. [1]

The Black Knights has its namesake of origin from the game of chess where the Knight is widely regarded as the most aggressive, flexible and manoeuvrable of all the chess pieces, having both the ability to breach barriers and move in nimble and strategically important directions, thus exemplifying flexibility and precision manoeuvrability as personified by the pilots of the team during their aerial manoeuvres.

The Black Knights is also the formation insignia of Tengah Air Base, home to the RSAF's fighter aircraft and the RSAF Black Knights.

In 1979, four members of the squadron were killed when their aircraft crashed into a cloud-covered mountain. One of the people who survived the accident due to mechanical problems grounding his aircraft was Tsu Way Ming, who would later pilot SilkAir Flight 185 that crashed in Palembang, Indonesia in December 1997. [2]

In tandem with the technological advancements and development of the RSAF, the Black Knights progressed from flying a four-ship formation of the Hawker Hunters in the 1970s to a five-ship F-5E Tiger IIs team in the 1980s.

In the 1990s, the Black Knights performed in a six-aircraft formation consisting of the locally re-engined A-4SU Super Skyhawks, using it until year 2000 (refer to performances).

The RSAF does not have a dedicated aerobatics squadron hence this team consists of F-16Cs and pilots from various F-16 squadrons.


Also, other than full dress rehearsal for National Day Parade or air shows and partly due to the limited airspace available for training in Singapore since its inception back in the 1970s, the Black Knights has frequently conducted their own training over the airspace within Singapore Armed Forces Southern Islands Live-firing zone, which encompasses the offshore islands of Pulau Sudong, Pulau Senang and Pulau Pawai.[ citation needed]


Asian Aerospace 2000

Closeup of a RSAF Black Knight F-16 performing.

Asian Aerospace 2000 was one of the first major air shows of the new millennium, this inspired plans for another six-aircraft RSAF Black Knights aerobatics team. As it was envisioned that the team would fly an all-F-16 display, four A-4SUs were added to bring the team to six when only two F-16s were available. This decision turn out to make history for the RSAF as it became the first air force in the world to combine these two aircraft types in one aerobatics team and was thus flown as such during the air show (see Fig. 1 & 2 in photo gallery).

National Day Parade 2000 (NDP2000)

On 9 August 2000, the RSAF Black Knights appeared during the air segment of the parade which featured a four-ship formation flight of A-4SU Super Skyhawks performing aerobatic stunts to thrill the crowds at the Padang in front of Singapore's City Hall building. This marks the last time the team uses A-4SU Super Skyhawks, the type was finally retired from front-line use in 2005.

Singapore Air Show 2008

After a hiatus of almost eight years, the newly reformed RSAF Black Knights took their F-16Cs to perform aerobatic flying displays at the inaugural Singapore Airshow from 19 to 24 February 2008. [3]

Overseas performances

On 24 April 2008, at the invitation of Air Chief Marshal Chalit Pukbhasuk – Commander-in-Chief of Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF), the Black Knights performed in an aerial display at the Don Muang Airport, Bangkok. [4] This performance by the RSAF Black Knights was to commemorate the 25th anniversary of RSAF-RTAF bilateral exercises which had begun in 1983. (See Fig. 13 in photo gallery. [5])

National Day Parade 2008 (NDP2008)

As with the tradition of National Day Parades in Singapore held every year since 1966, the Republic of Singapore Air Force scheduled the Black Knights for another crowd thrilling appearance during National Day Parade, 2008. [6]

Low level head-on pass during NDP 2008.

RSAF Open House 2008

The RSAF Open House is a bi-annual event which is usually held at Paya Lebar Air Base and in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of Republic of Singapore Air Force in 2008, [7] it would be open to public for two days from 30 to 31 August 2008. [8] Also, the RSAF Black Knights are scheduled for another aerobatic display to thrill the crowds.

Singapore Air Show 2014

The team will return after a hiatus of almost 6 years at the Singapore Air Show 2014. The Team will feature an all new paint scheme which consist of the crescent moon and five star found on the national flag. The team is scheduled to perform for the crowd on 11 to 16 February. [9]

Avalon Air Show 2015

Black Knights 5 and 6 performed at the Avalon Airshow 2015, while 1 was on static display.

Golden Jubilee Celebrations|SG 50|NDP15

The team performed on 7, 8 and 9 August at the Marina Barrage as part of Singapore's Golden Jubilee Celebrations. They also performed at National Day Parade, 2015 which included a 5 Star tribute flypast for the late founding father of Singapore Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Aircraft operated

  1. Hawker Hunter – 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1983 [1]
  2. F-5E Tiger-II – 1981 [1]
  3. A-4SU Super Skyhawk – 1990, 1994, 2000 [1]
  4. F-16A Fighting Falcon – 2000 [1]
  5. F-16C Fighting Falcon – 2008, 2014, 2015 [1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Black Knights – History". MINDEF. 24 April 2010. Archived from the original on 30 August 2008. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
  2. ^ Paddock, Richard (5 September 2001). "A Jet Crash That Defies Resolution". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 17 March 2015. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  3. ^ "RSAF Black Knights to Perform at Singapore Airshow 2008" (Press release). MINDEF. 11 September 2007. Archived from the original on 30 August 2008. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
  4. ^ "RSAF Black Knights 'wow' crowds in Bangkok (story & video)". The Straits Times. 12 May 2008. Archived from the original on 27 February 2009. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
  5. ^ "The RSAF's Black Knights to Perform in Bangkok in Commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of Bilateral Exercises" (Press release). MINDEF. 17 April 2008. Archived from the original on 30 August 2008. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
  6. ^ Lim, Jessica (13 June 2008). "Black Knights to blaze new trail at NDP". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 19 August 2008. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
  7. ^ "40th Anniversary of RSAF". MINDEF. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
  8. ^ "RSAF Open House 2008". MINDEF. 25 August 2008. Archived from the original on 5 September 2008. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
  9. ^ "RSAF Black Knights to Perform at Singapore Airshow 2014". MINDEF. 26 July 2013. Archived from the original on 19 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.

External links

Video clips