SAF deploys aircraft to Sulawesi to aid in quake humanitarian efforts

A C-130 transport aircraft departing Paya Lebar Air Base. The Singapore Armed Forces will provide airlift support for rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts at the request of the Indonesian government. PHOTO: MINDEF

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will be deploying a transport aircraft to Indonesia to support rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts following September's deadly earthquake in Sulawesi.

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) C-130 aircraft is being deployed at the request of the Indonesian government to aid in efforts by the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI), the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said on Wednesday (Nov 21).

The aircraft will be deployed for a week to provide airlift support to transport humanitarian supplies into disaster-hit areas, Mindef said.

The 7.4-magnitude quake, which struck on Sept 28 and triggered a 3m-high tsunami, left more than 1,200 people dead and some 16,700 displaced.

National disaster management agency BNPB previously said that about 2.4 million people in Donggala and Palu need humanitarian aid.

On Oct 2, two RSAF C-130 transport aircraft were deployed to Indonesia to deliver a relief package, comprising tents, meal rations, bottled water and medical supplies, the Mindef statement said.

The aircraft and crew remained in Indonesia to support the TNI in relief efforts, such as ferrying humanitarian supplies for those who were displaced.

One aircraft returned on Oct 17, while the other returned on Oct 26.

The SAF's contributions underscore the close and longstanding defence relationship between Singapore and Indonesia, Mindef said in the statement.

In a separate statement, Mindef said that the Singapore and Indonesia armies have successfully conducted the 30th edition of the flagship bilateral exercise, Exercise Safkar Indopura.

The eight-day exercise, which ended on Monday, was hosted by Indonesia this year.

Chief of Army Brigadier-General (BG) Goh Si Hou and Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Army General Mulyono co-officiated at the exercise's closing ceremony in Asembagus, Indonesia, on Monday.

A total of 460 soldiers from the 3rd Singapore Infantry Brigade; 2nd Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment; 48th Battalion, Singapore Armoured Regiment from the Singapore Army; and troops from the 16th Mechanised Brigade; 512th and 516th Mechanised Battalions; and the 8th Cavalry Battalion from the Indonesian Army were involved.

Both armies built stronger bonds and deepened mutual understanding through a series of professional exchanges, live-firing, tactical drills, battalion field training exercises, Mindef said.

The exercise culminated in a battalion-level combined arms live-firing mission comprising infantry and armour elements.

BG Goh said at the closing ceremony that the exercise had achieved its objectives of raising professionalism, strengthening friendships and fostering mutual understanding between the two armies.

"Since its humble beginnings as a map planning exercise, Exercise Safkar Indopura has evolved to become a full-troop exercise with a battalion-level combined arms live-firing component," he said.

"Today, I am proud to say that Exercise Safkar Indopura is the largest bilateral exercise between the Indonesian Army and the Singapore Army. This is only possible because of the mutual trust and understanding that our armies have developed over the years."

Exercise Safkar Indopura was first conducted in 1989.

In addition to bilateral exercises, the Singapore and Indonesia armies also engage in a range of bilateral activities, including visits, professional exchanges and courses.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.