MINDEF Explained RSAF F-16 Crash; F-16 Fleet Will Resume Flying


In case you missed it, it was reported on 8 May 2024 that an F-16 jet under the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) crashed at Tengah Air Base shortly after taking off.

Since then, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said that training will be temporarily suspended while they carry on investigations.

Now, there’s been an update by Mindef through a statement that was published on Saturday (18 May), and they announced that the suspension will be lifted, allowing the F-16 fleet to continue flying.

Technical Difficulties on F-16 Jet?

According to Mindef’s statement, the RSAF has worked together with US-based aerospace and defence manufacturer Lockheed Martin (LM) to determine the cause of the crash on 8 May.

They recovered the data recorder from the crashed F-16 and found that its “pitch rate gyroscopes gave erroneous inputs to the flight control computer”.

What does this mean?

Based on a research paper by NASA in 2017, the pitch rate gyroscopes are responsible for measuring the speed at which the jet’s nose moves up or down.

During that incident, the gyroscopes gave wrong data to the main control system, and this affects how the aircraft is adjusted.

A former RSAF pilot Ong Swee Chuan told CNA on Sunday (19 May) that at any given time, the jet uses an average of two data inputs from the three pitch rate gyroscopes, and this is inputted into the control system.

It was truly bad luck, since “there are two that simultaneously were at fault”, said Mr Ong.

Although there’s a fourth gyroscope, the data input that is provided is not taken into the control system because it is deemed not in sync with the two problematic ones.

This results in the aircraft being uncontrollable at take-off.

Malfunction Was a Rare Occurrence

Mindef said that “simultaneous failure of the gyroscopes is a very rare occurrence”.

They added that LM will not be doing any major fixings to the pitch rate gyroscopes in the F-16.

In fact, they are so confident it’s rare, because it’s the first time such a malfunction happened in over 35 years of the jet’s operation.

However, the first doesn’t necessarily mean the last, so the RSAF and LM will continue to investigate and make studies on why there was a malfunction in the first place.


F-16 Fleet To Resume Flying

Mindef said that since the problem with the F-16 has been identified, the jet will continue to fly.

They assured that “as an added precaution, each F-16 pitch rate gyroscope will be checked and cleared before resumption of flights”.

Thankfully, the pilot of the crash on 8 May was generally?okay.?He could walk and is conscious, with no other persons hurt.

Let’s hope that the incident is the first and last.