SINGAPORE - A Chinook helicopter from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has made its first landing on an Australian ship, a move that demonstrates the trust and interoperability between the two sides and could lead to better cooperation in times of crisis.
The landing of the CH-47D Chinook, from the RSAF's Oakey Detachment in Queensland, Australia, on the landing helicopter dock ship HMAS Adelaide took place in the waters off Townsville last Saturday (Oct 24).
The defence ministries of both countries said the move demonstrated the closeness of the two armed forces and their ability to work together.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Singapore's Ministry of Defence said landing on a ship was not easy as it involves precise manoeuvres and teamwork due to challenging conditions at sea.
"The deck-landing is a reflection of the high levels of cooperation and interoperability between the two militaries," it said.
The event was part of the lead-up to the commemoration of 30 years of Singapore Armed Forces training in Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Queensland, later this year.
Oakey Detachment commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Jimmy Neo, said: "It means a lot to Oakey Detachment for the successful certification of our CH-47D to land on the HMAS Adelaide.
"It is another milestone that highlights the mutual trust and professionalism between our crews and reaffirms the interoperability between both armed forces," he said in a Facebook post.
Oakey is home to the RSAF's CH-47D helicopter detachment, as well as RSAF airmen and their families. The detachment opened in 2018, but Singapore has trained helicopter crews in the rural town in Queensland since 1998.
The Chinook can be deployed for various operations, such as search and rescue, transporting cargo, troop lift, fire fighting, and humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions.
In a statement on Sunday, Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the Singapore crew spent two days flying from Townsville to HMAS Adelaide - which is among Australia's largest vessels - to undertake the deck landing qualifications.
These included communicating with the warship's flight control room and being guided by Australian sailors on the flight deck. A total of 34 RSAF personnel were involved in the operation.
The Australian minister said the move was a clear demonstration of the closeness of the friendship between the two countries, as well as of the increasing interoperability.
"The ability to operate our largest amphibious vessels with Singapore's CH-47 Chinook helicopters means we can work together to mobilise and move personnel or supplies at sea, and enhance our combined joint capability," added Ms Reynolds, who made her introductory visit to Singapore last week.
She noted that the helicopter was the same aircraft that came to Australia's aid early this year during the bush fire emergency, and this underscored the utility of being able to operate with Singapore in a crisis.
"We will always be grateful for Singapore's assistance during our time of need," she added.