RAAF’s No. 75 Squadron flew F-35s over Singapore for the first time, deployed out of Paya Lebar Air Base.
Aircraft crew trained alongside counterparts from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) last month, engaging in both air and ground-based activities, designed to bolster bilateral defence ties.
The exercise also aimed to enhance interoperability between the RSAF’s fourth-generation F-15SG Strike Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons, and the RAAF’s fifth-generation F-35A aircraft.
Commanding Officer of No. 75 Squadron Wing Commander Martin Parker noted the importance of preparing the regional partners to operate side-by-side for live operations in the region.
“Air Force’s relationship with the RSAF is strong and underpinned by regular exercise engagements and close professional relationships at all levels,” WGCDR Parker said.
“The F-35A’s debut visit to Singapore enables our aviators to continue to develop these close relationships and our Air Force’s interoperability.
“We had the opportunity to fly the F-35A alongside the RSAF’s F-15SG Strike Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons during the dissimilar air combat training, building mutual understanding and teaching us how to better operate together in the region.”
The F-35 is the country’s newest fighter, purchased to replace the RAAF’s F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets that were in service since 1985 and retired in late 2021.
Over the coming years, Australia will buy 72 as part of the $17 billion AIR 6000 Phase 2A/B program, with all expected to be fully operational by 2023.
In September, Australia took delivery of four more, taking its current fleet to 54.
The aircraft comes in three variants: the F-35A — purchased by Australia — is a conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) version; the F-35B is a short take-off/vertical landing (STOVL) variant, and the final F-35C is the carrier type (CV).
The bilateral engagement in Singapore also involved aviator-to-aviator discussions during a fighter symposium hosted by RSAF’s No. 142 Squadron, which aimed to provide the RSAF with an in-depth understanding of the logistical and maintenance requirements of operating the F-35 platform.
Commanding Officer of No. 142 Squadron Lieutenant Colonel Max Ng said the symposium enabled the counterparts to share unique operational experiences and identify areas for greater collaboration.
“We gained valuable insights into the F-35 operations, how it could enhance our operational capabilities and be integrated into the RSAF’s warfighting systems,” LTCOL Ng said.
“The air combat training was valuable for everyone to push our skills, our aircraft and ourselves to the limit.”
The F-35A aircraft are the latest Australian Defence Force platforms to debut in Singapore in recent months.
Two of the Australian Army’s Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles (CRVs) were recently deployed at Singapore’s Murai Urban training facility — put to the test for the first time in an overseas training ground.
The vehicles, which left Australian shores aboard HMAS Adelaide for Indo-Pacific Endeavour, were deployed as part of an exercise aimed at testing the integration of armour and infantry with the joint pre-landing force and the ground combat element.