SINGAPORE - The strike mission involved taking out a ground target in enemy territory, while fending off adversarial air forces and anti-air threats deployed on the ground.
Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) weapons systems officer CPT Chia Chi Yu, 32, planned and led a multi-national team in the simulated scenario alongside some of the most advanced fighter jets in the world, like the United States Air Force's (USAF) F-22s and Royal Saudi Air Force's Eurofighter Typhoons.
Out of 19 mission commanders, the first-time commander was recognised as the top performer, winning the "Overall Outstanding Mission Commander" award at this year's Exercise Red Flag - Nellis, hosted by the USAF. The exercise took place from Aug 14 to 25 (US time).
CPT Chia is from the Peace Carvin V (PC V) Detachment, based in Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The participating team also won the "Outstanding Aircraft Maintenance Unit" at the two-week exercise held at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, US.
The Singapore detachment deployed eight F-15SG fighter aircraft and more than 100 personnel for the exercise.
About 70 aircraft from Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and the US were involved, with observers from the Chile, Romania and Oman.
As a weapons systems officer, CPT Chia typically sits behind and works with the pilot to control the aircraft's weapon systems and navigate the flight. He said that being mission commander meant he had to make decisions under pressure.
"I hold the final hammer, in terms of decisions being made airborne, if something doesn't go according to plan, such as due to red force actions," said CPT Chia, who has been in the air force for almost 14 years.
He added: "The award I won is not so much a competition, but it's definitely a recognition and testament to our training standards, benchmarked with the rest of the participants in this exercise."
The "Outstanding Air Maintenance Unit" award was presented the RSAF ground crew in recognition of their efforts in ensuring that the F-15SGs were maintained in tip-top condition throughout the entire period of the exercise.
One of the crew members, Military Expert 2 Joan Teo, said: "It was indeed a very rewarding moment when they announced that we won the award and to know that our hard work was recognised and paid off."
Detachment commander Lieutenant Colonel Oon Kok Choon said: "We are glad to be given the opportunity to fly our F-15SGs alongside our USAF counterparts, whose participation included the F-22 fighter aircraft.
"The exercise provided a realistic training environment for both our air and ground crew, and I am proud that our RSAF team upheld the high standards and continued to perform well."
In 2015, the RSAF also won the "Best Aircraft Maintenance Unit", "Best Overall Mission Commander" and "Best Personnel Rescue Warrior".
During the exercise, the participants engaged in air combat and strike missions in a challenging environment which allowed them to hone and sharpen their operational competencies. The RSAF has been taking part since 1982.