PHOENIX - Two Singapore F-15SG fighter jets were on a night mission in Arizona to destroy a set of assigned targets as part of a military exercise when they received an urgent order.
The Command Post had just redirected them to take out four critical targets that were uncovered by a Heron 1 unmanned aerial vehicle, another Singapore asset.
To make the mission even tougher, the objectives were hidden in a cluster of 12 similar-looking targets, spread out over a vast area.
But the Heron 1 was able to accurately identify the four targets and their locations, and the two F-15SG jets delivered four 900kg Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) on the targets, destroying them.
The same mission was executed twice with success during the ongoing Forging Sabre exercise, which is an integrated live-firing exercise involving some 800 personnel from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and the Singapore Army.
It marked the first-time that the JDAMs - known as GBU-31s, which are GPS-guided precision munition that can accurately target and destroy large or heavily fortified structures - were used during the biennial exercise.
A total eight GBU-31s were used in the 16-day exercise, where a record number of some 150 precision munitions were employed. These included the Laser JDAMs, Laser-Guided Bombs (LGBs), Hellfire missiles and M31 Unitary rockets.
The eight GBU-31s differ from the Laser JDAMs that featured in the 2011 Forging Sabre exercise and were lighter and enhanced with laser seekers that improve precision accuracy.
The increased firepower and coordination between RSAF units are key milestones and highlights for the RSAF in the exercise, which started on Nov 28.
Held once every two years since 2005 except for 2007, the exercise drills the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) into a more integrated and lethal military.
This year, it has been taking place in a training area 20 times the size of Singapore, in Phoenix, Arizona.
Within the vast shrublands are two designated areas measuring some 1,080 sq km in total, where targets have been hiding and moving around, to avoid detection and attacks by the SAF.
The constant improvement in the RSAF's capability and interoperability among different asset platforms has not gone unnoticed, said Colonel Michael Richardson.
He is vice-commander of the 56th Fighter Wing that works with the Peace Carvin II detachment of Singapore's F-16 fighter jet detachment at the Luke Air Force Base. The RSAF has other detachments in the US, including the F-15SGs of Peace Carvin V at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho.
Speaking to Singapore media on Thursday (Dec 7), Col Richardson said a secondment to work with the Singapore detachment is viewed as an incentive for the 150-plus American pilots based at the Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, who are mostly instructors.
Only six at any one time are seconded to the detachment, with stints lasting between one and two years, depending on their roles.
"But those picked must be competent in the air and on the ground, and more importantly, sensitive and adept in dealing with international affairs as we do not want anyone to jeopardise the great working relationship with the Singapore Air Force," the colonel added.