Faster response to relief operations

An annual meeting of Asean's air force chiefs this year resulted in an improvement to standard operating procedures, enabling the air forces to respond faster to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations (HADR) in the region.

The 15th Asean Air Chiefs Conference in Singapore enhanced the Asean Air Forces Standard Operating Procedure, through having a uniformed prefix in aircraft call signs for regional HADR operations.

This leads to faster diplomatic clearance processes when working together.

This was one of the key outcomes of the four-day conference, a platform for the Asean air chiefs to discuss military aviation issues and multilateral air force cooperation.

The conference, which began last Friday, is attended by nine Asean air chiefs and the deputy chief of the Air Force Department of the Lao People's Army. It ends tomorrow. The leaders were also at the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) 50th anniversary parade held at Tengah Air Base yesterday.

The standard operating procedure was validated in April this year when the RSAF organised a command post exercise among member states.

The conference, hosted by the RSAF, also established the Asean Air Force Counter-Terrorism Hotline to promote cooperation and sharing of information on suspicious air activities and terrorist threats.

In addition, the chiefs expressed their support for the Guidelines for Air Encounters between Military Aircraft framework as part of confidence-building measures to enhance regional aviation safety.

The guidelines topic was raised at the 15th Asean Chiefs of Defence Forces' Informal Meeting in March, as well as during the 11th Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting in October last year.

Singapore's Chief of Air Force Major-General Mervyn Tan said the conference was an important avenue for collaboration among the Asean air forces.

He said: "As the RSAF moves into the next 50 years, we remain committed to strengthening our friendship and fostering greater cooperation amongst the Asean air forces."

Lim Min Zhang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 02, 2018, with the headline 'Faster response to relief operations'. Print Edition | Subscribe