RSAF to send personnel, aircraft to Australia for two-month overseas training

SINGAPORE – Some 200 Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) personnel and three squadrons of aircraft will be deployed to Australia next month, in the first physical deployment there since large-scale overseas exercises were suspended in May.

RSAF personnel will be training in the airspace around the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) Base Darwin between Oct 7 and Dec 11 this year, RSAF announced on Thursday (Sept 10).

About 200 RSAF personnel will use the training grounds for flight and live weapons training, Australia’s Department of Defence said.

Singaporean units taking part will include the 149 Squadron flying F-15SG aircraft, 112 Squadron flying a Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft, and 111 Squadron with a G550 Airborne Early Warning aircraft, it added.

The gradual resumption of overseas training comes after the Ministry of Defence said on May 12 that it had suspended all large-scale overseas exercises due to Covid-19. This included Exercise Wallaby, the Singapore Armed Forces’ (SAF) largest overseas drill that has been held in Queensland, Australia every year since 1990.

The SAF also said last week that it will step up the training tempo in the coming months, and will progressively resume national service in-camp training from October.

The RSAF deployment shows Australia’s close defence partnership with Singapore, Australia’s Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said.

“Singapore’s military training in Australia is an important element of our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. It supports Singapore’s ability to generate a force that provides strategic weight and supports stability in our region,” she said.

The RSAF said on Facebook that it has been working closely with its Australian counterparts to ensure that the necessary health and safety precautions are in place to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

Prior to arriving in Australia, RSAF personnel will spend seven days in self-isolation and take a Covid-19 test 48 hours before they fly. They will then be quarantined for 14 days at specially prepared hotel accommodation in the Darwin area that will be secured and managed by the Australian Defence Force.

The personnel will then be re-tested after their quarantine ends.

Besides Exercise Wallaby, officer cadet training in Brunei and armour training in Germany were also among others affected by the May suspension of large-scale overseas training.

Mindef said in June – ahead of SAF Day on July 1 – that overseas exercises would gradually resume on a selective basis.

The first major foreign exercise which the SAF participated in since then was the Rim of the Pacific (Rimpac) Exercise, which took place in the state of Hawaii in the United States from Aug 17 to 31.

The Republic of Singapore Navy served as task group commander during Rimpac, which is the world’s largest international maritime exercise.

However, this year’s edition was a scaled-down version of the usual exercise. It was also conducted entirely at sea, with no physical interactions between participants, said Mindef.

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