RSAF can train at Aussie airbase for another 25 years

AP-3C Orions at the Pearce Airbase in Western Australia.
AP-3C Orions at the Pearce Airbase in Western Australia.PHOTO: DEFENCE.GOV.AU

Treaty on use of Western Australian base signed at high-level bilateral dialogue here

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) will train at the Pearce airbase in Western Australia for another 25 years, with a new treaty signed at a high-level bilateral dialogue between Singapore and Australia yesterday.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) to strengthen tourism cooperation was also signed at the meeting.

The agreements were two of the main outcomes of the 10th Singapore-Australia Joint Ministerial Committee meeting held at the Sofitel Sentosa hotel yesterday.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the biennial meetings. It is co-chaired by foreign ministers Vivian Balakrishnan and Julie Bishop, and involves the trade and defence ministers from both sides.

During the joint press conference attended by the six ministers, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen also gave an update on the plans for the development of training facilities near the city of Townsville and at Shoalwater Bay in eastern Australia, saying they were "on track".

Under the MOU on Military Training and Training Area Development signed last October, up to 14,000 Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) troops will be able to conduct training in these places for up to 18 weeks a year over 25 years, in training areas 10 times the size of Singapore.

The new Pearce treaty will enhance the existing MOU, which was signed in 1993 and expires next year.

Dr Ng and Australian Minister for Defence Marise Payne signed the treaty, which allows the RSAF to maintain and operate its Flying Training Institute at the Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF) Base Pearce for another 25 years. Dr Ng said the RSAF being able to train at Base Pearce was "an important part of our training capabilities".

The signing was witnessed by Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General Perry Lim, Chief of Australian Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin and other senior defence officials from both countries.

The treaty will be sent to the Australian Parliament for ratification.

During yesterday's meeting, the six ministers reviewed bilateral cooperation efforts, including the implementation of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) signed in 2015. They also exchanged views on international and regional political, economic and security developments.

The Australian delegation also called on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and were hosted to lunch by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

There was also a Singapore-Australian high-level women's dialogue - the first of its kind - co-chaired by Australian Foreign Minister Bishop and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Josephine Teo.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2017, with the headline 'RSAF can train at Aussie airbase for another 25 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe