RSAF airmen gain first-hand experience with Australian air force’s F-35As in training exercise

RSAF’s fourth-generation fighter jets, the F-15SGs and F-16s, flew alongside the RAAF’s F-35As during the training exercise. PHOTO: REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE AIR FORCE

SINGAPORE - Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) airmen had a two-day training exercise with the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) F-35 Joint Strike Fighter crew to learn more about the fighter jet’s capabilities and how to integrate it into warfighting systems.

The fifth-generation stealth fighter, manufactured by American defence contractor Lockheed Martin, is considered the world’s most modern fighter jet.

The RSAF’s fourth-generation fighter jets, the F-15SGs and F-16s, flew alongside the RAAF’s F-35As in the southern reaches of the South China Sea, within international airspace, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Apart from flying training, personnel from the two air forces attended a symposium in Singapore to discuss topics such as the integration of fifth-generation and fourth-generation fighters to enhance operational capabilities, as well as F-35 engineering and maintenance requirements.

Lieutenant-Colonel Max Ng, commanding officer of the RSAF’s 142 Squadron, said: “This gave us a better understanding of the F-35 and how it can be integrated into the Singapore Armed Forces’ warfighting systems.

“In my view, it was beneficial and successful for both air forces, from understanding the operational intricacies of inducting new capabilities, to professional exchanges based on first-hand experiences.”

The RSAF said in a Facebook post on Thursday that its close bilateral relationship with the RAAF has allowed its personnel to gain technical knowledge and learn about best practices to factor into its F-35 operationalisation plans.

Wing Commander Martin Parker, commanding officer of the RAAF’s 75 Squadron, said: “We also talked about personal and collective challenges for both air forces, and how we could help each other out in various ways.”

He added that it was a privilege to be in Singapore.

Singapore’s Ministry of Defence announced in 2019 that it would purchase four F-35Bs, with the option to purchase eight more.

While the aircraft comes in three variants, the Republic opted for the F-35B for its ability to take off from a shorter runway and land vertically.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said at the Committee of Supply debate in Parliament in 2021 that Singapore is on track to receive the four F-35Bs around 2026 and for the RSAF to start training in Guam from 2029.

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