Ong Ye Kung to attend Exercise Wallaby

This year's Exercise Wallaby involves some 4,000 SAF personnel and 400 platforms, including the Apache helicopter, in three phases.
This year's Exercise Wallaby involves some 4,000 SAF personnel and 400 platforms, including the Apache helicopter, in three phases.PHOTO: FACEBOOK. COM/OUR SINGAPOREARMY/

Minister will join 3rd Guards and RSAF helicopter squads in Australia

Exercise Wallaby, Singapore's largest overseas deployment of military personnel, is now in its second phase, and will involve live-firing and heliborne operations.

Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung, who will be attending the exercise for the first time, is expected to join servicemen from the 3rd Guards and Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) helicopter squadrons this week.

This year's exercise, which began on Sept 3 at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, looks set to wrap up its 27th year of the unilateral military training exercise early next month. It involves some 4,000 Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel and 400 platforms - including the Light Strike Vehicle, Apache helicopter and Leopard tank - in three phases.

SAF has held yearly exercises at Shoalwater Bay since 1990. The area lies around 140km north of Rockhampton in Queensland, Australia. With a training area of 2,800 sq km, nearly four times the total land area of Singapore, it can accommodate up to 6,600 people over 65 days of training.

The large space allows army, naval and air force units to conduct large-scale complex operations and integrated live firing of long-range munitions, and enables land units to perform complex battalion-level manoeuvres.

RSAF also practises low-level military flights, where planes can fly under 500ft, over an adjacent and uninhabited navigation area eight times the size of Singapore.

An ongoing development of training infrastructure and an expansion of training areas in Australia, including an area near Townsville, looks set to increase the capacity to 14,000 personnel over 18 weeks of training in a A$2.25 billion (S$2.4 billion) deal between Singapore and Australia.

This is despite an outcry from local farmers last year over efforts to acquire their farmland, according to local media reports.

Correction note: This article has been updated to correctly reflect the value of the development deal between Singapore and Australia. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 08, 2017, with the headline 'Ye Kung to attend Exercise Wallaby'. Print Edition | Subscribe