Full album here: National Day Rehearsal Jul 2015 – Tanks n Such
I initially planned to have a shot at the Mobile Column as it rolled down Nicholl Highway, past Suntec and towards the Padang. Instead, my bus passed the intersection of Raffles Boulevard and Nicholl Highway, stopping for a bit due to the road closures from the armored vehicles just parked along the highway waiting for its entry cue. I took it as a sign to alight, and thus the shoot began.
Firstly, the scale of the column needs to be understood: it is a convoy of military and civilian vehicles/weaponry representing the Singapore Armed Forces, Police Force and Civil Defense Force stretching over 1.5km (approximately a mile). That is a lot of hardware. 177 vehicles and 1500 personnel worth of hardware, to be precise.
While it would be laborious to introduce each of the vehicles, I will provide some highlights (more details on the Mobile Column here: NDP.org Mobile Column). The star of the column is arguably the Leopard 2SG Main Battle Tank, with its low profile and 120mm Rheinmetall smoothbore gun. This is a hunk of German steel in a special configuration that provides mobility above and beyond what one would expect of such a ponderous war machine.
Next up is the locally developed 120mm Super Rapid Advanced Mortar System, sitting atop another Singapore native: The Bronco All Terrain Tracked Carrier. Ordinarily this would fail to impress till one realizes that the low recoil of the 120mm mortar permits it to actually be mounted on the Spider Light Strike Vehicle. A 120mm on a lightfooted strike vehicle, capable of Multiple Rounds, Simultaneous Impact firing? Sign me up!
And then there is the SSPH-1 Primus 155mm self-propelled howitzer, yet another local concoction. Lightly armored, it is exceptionally light considering its armament. Combined with its integration with modern fire control systems, this howitzer is quite the dancer with impressive shoot and scoot capabilities.
Last but not least are the Navy’s offerings, with the unmanned Protector USV and the Specialized Marine Craft – two exceedingly nimble offerings. It is not every day that one gets to see a military boat like the SMC wheeled about on a highway. As for the Israeli made Protector, one does not need to be on site to show littoral threats that one truly cares…
Now with arms and armament concluded, on to the parade proper. This time, I managed to find a vantage point watching the Red Lions parachutists touching down at the Padang. It was initially difficult to see the paras deploying from the helicopter overhead, but they quickly deployed their smoke and assembled midair in good order. Hearing the crowd cheer as they touched down one by one was quite the experience, even though I was not at the grandstand proper.
And that concludes this particular edition of NDP Rehearsals 2015. One wonders what the next week will have in store…