Singapore air force to take part in New Zealand exercise, says New Zealand Defence Minister

WELLINGTON - The Republic of Singapore Air Force will take part in a flight training exercise hosted by the Royal New Zealand Air Force, according to New Zealand's Defence Ministry.

New Zealand Defence Minister Mark Mitchell said in a statement that the exercise would take place at Ohakea Air Force base from Aug 30 to Sept 25.

He said the deployment would include six F-16D+ fighter jets, about 110 personnel and associated support equipment.

The contingent will be based at Ohakea, but will carry out training missions throughout New Zealand, including day and night flying, using New Zealand air weapons ranges, and conducting other training at both high and low altitude.

“Singapore is one of our closest defence partners. All three services of the New Zealand Defence Force regularly train and exercise with their Singaporean counterparts, and it will be a pleasure to welcome this group to New Zealand,” Mr Mitchell said in the statement, dated Aug 2 (2017).

“Our two countries have an active agreement to explore opportunities for further military co-operation and training and this exercise aligns perfectly with that.”

Mr Mitchell said Singapore had also asked the New Zealand government to consider accommodating F-15SG fighter jet training at Ohakea on a long-term basis.

“At the moment, both countries are carrying out a range of studies to enable everyone to make an informed decision on a possible proposal. But we have similar values and it could be a good fit," he said.

“This exercise is timely, in that it will provide valuable data for the process and how basing F15s at Ohakea might work for our Air Force.

“The government is committed to following a good process and is firmly committed to work closely on this with local communities through their mayors and councils. That engagement has already begun.  

“There is a lot of work to be done before the possibility could come to fruition and I look forward to a productive partnership with local government in that work,” Mr Mitchell said.