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Paya Lebar Airfield

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Title: Paya Lebar Airfield  
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Subject: 497th Air Expeditionary Group, Forward Operating Site
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Paya Lebar Airfield

"Singapore International Airport" redirects here. For the currently used commercial airport in Singapore, see Singapore Changi Airport.
For other uses, see WSAP (disambiguation).
Paya Lebar Air Base (PLAB)
Pangkalan Udara Paya Lebar
Paya Lebar Air Base Crest Badge
Airport type Military airbase
Owner Ministry of Defence (Singapore)
Operator Republic of Singapore Air Force
Location Paya Lebar, Singapore
Elevation AMSL 65 ft / 20 m
Coordinates 01°21′37″N 103°54′34″E / 1.36028°N 103.90944°E / 1.36028; 103.90944

Direction Length Surface
m ft
02/20 3,780 12,401 Asphalt
Source: DAFIF[1][2]

Paya Lebar Air Base (Simplified Chinese: 巴耶利峇空军基地; Malay: Pangkalan Udara Paya Lebar) (IATA: QPGICAO: WSAP) is a military airbase of the Republic of Singapore Air Force located at Paya Lebar, in the central-eastern part of Singapore, the airbase goes by the motto of "Strength Through Readiness".

Originally built in 1954 as Singapore International Airport to replace Kallang Airport, control of the airport was transferred to RSAF in 1980 when it was they renamed it as Paya Lebar Air Base following the relocation of the civilian airport to Changi.


External images
Overflight photo 1 of Paya Lebar Airport, 1962
Overflight photo 2 of Paya Lebar Airport, 1962
Overflight photo 3 of Paya Lebar Airport, 1962

It was a hub for Malayan Airways at this time (the other being Kuala Lumpur), and the airline had its first flight outside Southeast Asia in 1958, using a DC-4 leased from Qantas, flying to Hong Kong. Turboprops were introduced over the next few years, and the name was changed to Malaysian Airways. In 1962 a joint RAF/Singapore civil Air Traffic Control service was formed to provide Military cover for Air Defence. During that time Britannia aircraft of British Eagle provided transport for UK military. Comet 4C's were common traffic and the new VC10 arrived reducing flight time, (using UK and Singapore time it was theoretically possible to land before it had taken off) rather than the 24hrs-with stops- of the Britannia.

In 1966, the company focused more on Singapore, buying Boeing 707s, headquartering itself in that country, and renaming itself Malaysia-Singapore Airlines - with a notable fluorescent yellow livery. Its primary hub became Paya Lebar, and services began to reach out further into North Asia.

From 1979 to 1980, British Airways, in conjunction with Singapore Airlines, began supersonic Concorde services from London's Heathrow Airport, to Paya Lebar Singapore.

Malaysia-Singapore Airlines was dissolved in 1972; Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines were formed - the latter keeping all the 707s; and Singapore Airlines remained at Paya Lebar. But passenger numbers rose from 1.7 million to 4 million between 1970 and 1975. The airport was constrained by housing estates and although some work was done to keep it operational in the meantime, construction began on the present Singapore International Airport at Changi in 1975, opening in 1981. Paya Lebar then closed to civil traffic, and Changi took over Paya Lebar's IATA code of SIN.

Conversion to military use

Paya Lebar began to be gradually converted into a military air-force base from Late 1967 onwards. During that year, an Air Movement Centre was constructed to handle passengers and cargo arriving on Republic of Singapore Air Force flights, Ministry of Defence charter flights and foreign military aircraft. It became a complete military airbase in 1981 when Singapore Changi Airport was opened and was subsequently renamed as Paya Lebar Air Base (PLAB) on the same year.

Paya Lebar Air Base

The air base currently houses aircraft such as the C-130 Hercules and the upgraded AMRAAM capable F-5S/T Tiger IIs.

The Flying squadrons are:

The Support Squadrons are:

  • Air Logistics Squadron (ALS)
  • Airfield Maintenance Squadron (AMS)
  • Field Defence Squadron (FDS)
  • Flying Support Squadron (FSS)

US presence

Besides being used by various flying units of United States Air Force and United States Navy (including United States Marine Corps Aviation) as a refuelling stopover and staging post/transit point, the base is also used permanently by the 497th Combat Training Squadron for other flight operations since 31 October 1991.[4]

Side note

  • Occasionally, Paya Lebar Air Base plays host to commercial/VIP aircraft as well. Air Force One landed at the base during President George W. Bush's two visits to Singapore in October 2003 and November 2006.

Photo gallery

Air Force Museum

The RSAF maintains the Air Force Museum, which is open to the public and showcases the air force's history and capabilities. The museum is located along Airport Road beside the airbase.

RSAF Open House

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,[5] it was open to the public for two days from 30 August to 31 August 2008.[6] Also, the RSAF Black Knights was present for another aerobatic display to thrill the crowds.


The old passenger terminal building and control tower still stand, though they now house air force units and are off limits to the public. Nevertheless, much of the interior still remains intact and is almost completely preserved from the time it was first built.[7] The road which used to lead to the old passenger terminal is also still known as Airport Road.

See also

Singapore portal
Aviation portal



External links

  • RSAF web page on Paya Lebar Air Base (PLAB)
  • NWS
  • Aviation Safety Network

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