SAF to hold high-tech wargames in US

The Heron 1 UAV will be among the 33 aircraft that will be put through their paces in Exercise Forging Sabre.
The Heron 1 UAV will be among the 33 aircraft that will be put through their paces in Exercise Forging Sabre.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
UAV Command personnel going through maintenance checks on the Heron 1 UAV.
UAV Command personnel going through maintenance checks on the Heron 1 UAV.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
Final checks being carried out on the Heron 1 before it takes flight.
Final checks being carried out on the Heron 1 before it takes flight.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Luke Air Force Base (Arizona) - Singapore's most advanced warplanes, drones, weapons and electronic battlefield network will be put to the test on Thursday (Dec 10) , in a massive show of force aimed at demonstrating the combined firepower of the Republic's 3rd Generation armed forces.

Codenamed Forging Sabre, the live-firing exercise will also involve about 600 ground and air troops, including commando ground surveillance troops who will have to work together to spot and strike the enemy as one united force.

Playing out over the rugged terrain the United States' south-western desert - 19 times the size of Singapore - the war games will also be the final hurdle for the Republic's latest eye in the sky - Heron 1 - to be declared battle-ready.

Four of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which are making their debut in the exercise, will have to scan the rugged terrain to pick out enemy targets and pinpoint them with laser beams.

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Swooping in to destroy these targets are 29 F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, Apache attack helicopters and Chinook heavy-lift vehicles from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) detachments from Arizona, Texas and Idaho.

They will be hammering the enemy with nearly 100 munitions, which include the Laser Jdam smart bombs and anti-tank Hellfire missiles

Men and machines have been practising the exchange of real-time battle data in the past three weeks. Sensors such as the UAVs will be tightly linked to the shooters, such as the fighter jets, so that they can suppress the enemy even before being spotted.

The integrated live-fire drill, the 5th in the Forging Sabre series since 2005, is the most complex and realistic, said exercise director, Colonel Tommy Tan.

Men and machines will be pitted against more sophisticated and unpredictable enemy forces, or "red air".

"We are testing the whole loop, from fighting all the way in, dropping the bomb, seeing how to bomb drops... from there, when the guy comes back, he has to find a way out, to survive coming back," said the commander of the RSAF's Air Combat Command.

Witnessing the final outcome will be Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.