Junior RSAF fighter crew get taste of flying with other aircraft in Exercise Red Flag-Alaska

Captain Julie Lim was among more than 140 RSAF personnel who took part in Exercise Red Flag-Alaska. PHOTO: MINDEF

SINGAPORE - In her three years piloting the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) F-15SG fighter jet, Captain Julie Lim never had the chance to drop 900kg of munitions.

Her breakthrough came in the past two weeks during a combat exercise code-named Red Flag-Alaska, where her aircraft destroyed targets with the GBU-31, a GPS-guided precision bomb.

Together with Lieutenant Hannah Teo, a weapon systems officer, Capt Lim also engaged in combat against simulated hostile threats during the exercise held over the vast airspace of Alaska in the United States.

They are among more than 140 RSAF servicemen from the Peace Carvin V detachment who took part in the exercise hosted by the United States Air Force (USAF) that ends on Saturday (June 25).

Held at Eielson Air Force Base, the exercise is conducted up to four times a year, with the USAF training with forces from allied and partner countries.

The current iteration features a high degree of integration between land and air units, with more than 70 aircraft from the USAF and the RSAF involved.

The RSAF sent 10 F-15SGs from its Peace Carvin V detachment, which is based in Mountain Home, Idaho.

Singapore has been taking part in the exercise since 1984, with the Ministry of Defence attributing this to the "excellent and longstanding defence relationship" between the two countries.

"It enhances the professionalism and coordination among the participating forces, and provides the RSAF an opportunity to benchmark itself against other leading air forces," said Mindef in its statement on Saturday (June 25).

For Peace Carvin V detachment commander Shewan Goh, that opportunity is vital.

Speaking to reporters in a virtual interview on Monday, Lieutenant-Colonel Goh said: "The sheer scale of the airspace, assets and resources really provides us with the opportunity to engage in a more complex, more realistic and more dynamic environment.

"Our personnel are heavily involved right from the mission planning stage all the way to the execution and we participate in a variety of missions… that allow us to sharpen our operational capabilities as well as tactical competencies."

LTC Shewan Goh said the opportunity for the RSAF to benchmark itself against other leading air forces is vital. PHOTO: MINDEF

To prepare for the exercise, LTC Goh said his airmen were put through their paces months in advance, starting with component training.

That preparation was paramount for first-time participants Lim, 29, and Teo, 27.

The junior fighter crew said they found the experience flying beside so many other aircraft a challenge as they had never done it before.

Lt Teo said: "I was a bit overwhelmed because there were a lot of aircraft in the same airspace, and I was not really used to that many aircraft as compared with the rest of the exercises that we've been (on)."

RSAF sent 10 F-15SGs from its Peace Carvin V detachment to Exercise Red Flag-Alaska. PHOTO: MINDEF

Previous exercises, she said, were stepping stones to this one.

Capt Lim said the exercise gave her a deeper insight into the integration of various platforms between the USAF and RSAF.

Success was measured by the number of air-to-air kills and bombs dropped, she added.

"But beyond that, I think the key thing was really falling back to our fundamentals, getting back to our training to help get us through."

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