Proposal for Singapore F-15 jet training in NZ scrapped

The decision follows nearly two years of discussions between the two countries, and confirms a New Zealand media report in December 2018 that the plans have been scrapped because of "excessive costs".
The decision follows nearly two years of discussions between the two countries, and confirms a New Zealand media report in December 2018 that the plans have been scrapped because of "excessive costs".PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Decision comes after two years of talks between both countries

A proposal for Singapore's F-15 fighter jet training to be conducted in New Zealand on a long-term basis will not be taking off, said the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) yesterday.

The decision follows nearly two years of discussions between the two countries, and confirms a New Zealand media report last month that the plans have been scrapped due to "excessive costs".

In response to media queries, Mindef said the ministry and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) appreciated New Zealand's support in assessing the feasibility of a long-term fighter training detachment in Ohakea, Manawatu, on the North Island.

"Both sides have mutually concluded that the proposal will not proceed. Singapore and New Zealand will continue to look for new opportunities to cooperate on defence and security activities," added the ministry, without specifying reasons behind the decision.

In the report on New Zealand-based news website Newsroom on Dec 21, New Zealand's Defence Minister Ron Mark was quoted as saying that both countries had agreed not to go ahead with the plan.

Locating Singapore's F-15s at Ohakea on a long-term basis was "not feasible without significant investment to alleviate the strain operations would place on the capacity of the airfield and the airspace above it", said Mr Mark, adding that Singapore agreed that the costs were an important factor in the final decision.

He said New Zealand may yet host Singapore's fighter aircraft for short periods.

 

Mindef had been looking at the possibility of deploying fighter jets in New Zealand for pilot training since February 2017.

Last March, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Mr Mark said at the second annual Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers' Meeting in Auckland that New Zealand would continue to evaluate the proposal.

Mindef added that Singapore and New Zealand are close defence partners and share a long history of operational and training cooperation.

Singapore has a detachment of F-15s based at the Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho in the United States.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2019, with the headline 'Proposal for Singapore F-15 jet training in NZ scrapped'. Print Edition | Subscribe