RED LIONS A REGULAR FEATURE OF NDP
The Red Lions have been a regular feature of the National Day Parade since 1989, for 31 times over 34 years, said Dr Ng.
Of a total of about 3,400 individual parachute jumps, there have been four recorded injuries – a rate of 0.12 per cent.
“The safety record by our Red Lions during NDP is good and equivalent to that in regular military freefall training jumps – over the past five years, where the incident rate has also been about 0.1 per cent, he said.
As conditions during the National Day Parade pose tighter constraints due to challenging wind conditions and limited landing area, only experienced parachutists are selected as Red Lions for parade displays, said Dr Ng.
He added that parachutists must have made a minimum of 180 jumps to qualify for the selection tests.
Those who are selected will undergo continuous and rigorous training to maintain their skills and proficiency.
For jumps at the Floating Platform or HDB heartlands, landing sites are carefully selected. The areas must be flat and provide sufficient space. They must also be free from obstructions, and the wind conditions must be within safe thresholds, said Dr Ng.
There are also prescribed “No-Go Criteria” for jumps, which include prevailing visibility of the landing site by the parachutists, communications with the pilot and ground personnel, as well as acceptable weather and wind speed, the Defence Minister said in his reply.
Dr Ng also said that the committee reviewing the incident involving 3WO Heng is also looking into near-misses and incidents in the past.
The experts in the committee have been tasked to determine if there have been systemic changes such as stronger wind, other weather conditions or local environment which have increased the risks, Dr Ng said, adding that their findings will also have a bearing on routine training.
The committee is also examining possible measures to enhance safety, with an increase of the distance between parachutists among one of the changes being considered.
“This will provide the parachutists more reaction time as they approach the landing zone and enable the landing to be more spaced out,” said Dr Ng.
“The SAF’s priority is safety, and the Red Lions will continue to be a part of our NDP celebrations, only if safety can be ensured, with appropriate new measures, including those recommended by the review committee,” he added.