Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) projects forces at long-range to Queensland, Australia, for Exercise Wallaby 2013

A well-used F-16D from 140 Squadron lands safely at Rockhampton Airport yesterday, more than 5,750km from Singapore. More pictures by Travis Whiting and Kayanne Hardsman are found on the Central Queensland Plane Spotting site. Click here.

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has projected its combat and combat support elements to Queensland, Australia, ahead of its biggest and most complex unilateral war games conducted Down Under.

Six Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) F-16s - the air force's most numerous fighter type - arrived in Rockhampton Airport yesterday, adding to RSAF war machines already deployed there. Two single-seat F-16Cs and four twin-seat F-16Ds touched down in the normally quiet airport in the Queensland outback, watched eagerly by Australians aviation enthusiasts who waited three years for Singapore's F-16C/Ds to reappear there.

A blog post on the CQ Plane Spotting site (please click here) recorded 140 SQN's arrival in Rocky:"The flight of six fighter jets - of 140 Squadron of the RSAF - all touched down in quick succession following their flight from RAAF Base Tindal in the Northern Territory. They were heard to be using one radio callsign of 'Singa 3311'.

"Local plane spotters Travis W and Kayanne H were one of many plane spotters and other members of the general public who made it (to) Rockhampton Airport to enjoy the fantastic spectacle of the six jets flying around Rockhampton before eventually landing on Runway 15 and taxiing to their parking spot on the military hardstand on the Northern end of the Rockhampton Airport apron."

Long-range force projection
In recent weeks, Australian plane spotters have noted successive waves of civilian airliners (among them: Air New Zealand, Qantas and Singapore Airlines) landing at Rockhampton Airport as the troop build-up gathers momentum.

These arrivals appear to be paced to a timetable that allows the SAF to execute long-range force projection with units arriving in a size and particular sequence in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA). The Australian Defence Force training ground is about two hours drive from Rockhampton Airport.

The exercise area, which is about four times the size of Singapore, sets the stage for the SAF to plan, deploy, manoeuvre and review the large-scale movement of Manoeuvre Forces. This is done in concert with RSAF strike aircraft, UAVs and combat helicopters, across vast distances, day and night, with targets engaged using live munitions of all calibres and bomb tonnage, in various operational settings over unfamiliar terrain.

As the SAF builds up its defence manpower some 5,750km from Singapore, RSAF air power was also projected at long-range - again apparently timed to a schedule that allows Team RSAF to raise its flying and flying support elements rapidly in-theatre.

Such coordination, thought to be made possible by RSAF Air Operations Department as the lead element, is said to be a complex long-range force projection exercise in itself. This is because moving RSAF heavy hitters - like warplanes, their ground support crew and assorted armament - safely to SWBTA involves close teamwork between the RSAF and civilian agencies in Singapore and abroad.

The work entails arranging for and obtaining flight clearances across three countries, over long distances that may involve crew rest and refuelling stopovers and working with multiple civilian entities for air charters. All this takes place with staff officers working behind the scenes long before Exercise Wallaby's first Frame gets started.

RSAF C-130H Hercules 731 at Rockhampton Airport. The Antonov AN-124-100 heavy-lift transport in the background was chartered by the RSAF to fly helicopters from Singapore to Queensland for Exercise Wallaby 2013.

Rarely does one see an RSAF Chinook stripped down for air transport. This Chinook has since been assembled by 127 Squadron engineers and has been seen flying around Rockhampton Airport.

As of today, plane spotters have observed two RSAF Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, five AH-64D Apache attack helicopters and five Super Puma/Cougar medium-lift helicopters at Rockhampton. The six F-16C/Ds added the fast jet element to the RSAF presence in Rockhampton.

We will continue monitoring developments in and around SWBTA in the coming weeks.


Anonymous said...

SAF boleh !

Anonymous said...

Wow, and miserable pay for National Service men...

Wow, wow..big bucks to the airlines.

ah seng said...

Dear Anonymous: Aiyoh... What miserable pay are you talking? look at the poor military men working in malaysia. They were paid little but never complain. NS is our responsibility, if you hate the system, get lost aka migrate from Singapore~ Nobody wants you here.

Using S'pore airlines also bring some money back to us la bro...

Hope we can do real "exercise" in JB instead. Much more "fun". Let them see our planes :)

Anonymous said...

What has this to do with 'miserable pay' ?

NSF allowances are meant to supplement basic living expenses. 2 years of NS is not a career, it is a service to the nation...its not a full-salary drawing job.

Stop being such a loser..

Anonymous said...

foreigners have already bought a big percentage of the houses/properties in jb/iskandar m'sia. and also, those "exercises" conducted in jb's "health centres" are a lot more "fun".

Anonymous said...

Right, are we in Malaysia..

Why can't they give NS men the full pay as the Regulars....Arn't they doing the same job, and they (NSF men) did not volunteer for the job leh.

Anonymous said...

A peace-time, long-planned-for, workplan deployment is not that much of a show of capability, especially when this is somewhat of a yearly milk-run. Not to take credit away from the troops involved, it is still a hefty exercise in planning and execution. However when running a re/deployment "under duress" (for example, a no-notice humanitarian assistance operation or a military show-of-force/peace-support operation (preferably somewhere distant) would be a greater/truer test of capability.

Anonymous said...

Yes, agree, this is more of a milk run rather than force projection. Unless SAF deploy a full squadron with a full battalion with its support elements, in a single time frame, that is logistical marvel.
Rsaf do send large force elements to Asia Pacific ex, but 6 vipers and 3 Chinook, personally doesn't cut it. On NS, I agree, from a father of 2 sons, I agree, NS men should be given higher 'allowance' but not equal to regulars. Please gentlemen, stop bashing malaysia and vice versa or any country for that matter, show some maturity.

David Boey said...

Dear Anon 5:08 PM and 6:14 PM,
re: No-notice deployments. Do consider the following:

1997: Operation Crimson Angel. Non-combatant evacuation operation of Singaporeans from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, flown by 122 SQN's C-130s.

2004: Operation Flying Eagle. SAF deployment to Indonesia and Thailand for earthquake/tsunami relief.

re: Ex Wallaby 2013.
In addition to the RSAF elements, there is also a Ro-Ro that will bring more than 300 vehicles to SWBTA. In toto, several thousand souls will be airlifted there. Munitions also have to get there somehow.

Your esteemed point of view that it is a milk run is inconsonant with how the study of warfare would define such a movement of arms.

Anyway, our Australian plane spotter friends have more pictures to share from Rockhampton. :)

Best regards,


Anonymous said...

All f16s are carrying sniper pods

Anonymous said...

Back in the days when I did my 2 years 4 months of National Service, it never crossed my mind whether the system was fair or unfair to us guys with regard to the opposite sex or to foreigners.

That is not to say that I enjoyed NS. In fact, like many others, I think of it as the biggest waste of time in my life. I hated it, from all the regimental restrictions to the stupid wayangs to an unmeritocratic system where a veteran warrant officer has to address a commissioned officer fresh out of OCS as “Sir”. The last bit is one I could never come to terms with. To me, there must be something inherently wrong with a system where one is forever consigned to an inferior rank from the career path chosen at the outset that no amount of performance or further education could fix.

I can still remember the day I walked out of camp on my ORD. I’ve never felt so exhilarated and relieved. This must be how it feels to get out of jail, I thought to myself, while conscious of the fact that I would be back in a few years’ time for in-camp training. Since then, I have done a handful of ICTs and they only served to reinforce my opinion of NS being extremely unproductive. There were days when I spent entire afternoons hanging out in a specialist mess because the supervisors had nothing for us to do.

That is why it baffles me when people say our defence will be compromised if NS is cut even shorter from the current two years. Have they seen how unproductively time is spent and all the silly wayang shows we waste time on when a VIP visits?

Despite my misgivings, I just took it as something I had to do and didn’t think much of it. It’s like, okay, I wasted 2 plus years of my life but it’s the same with every guy. People in other countries could spend many more years rebuilding their lives after a war, after all. I’m not saying that Singapore is safe because we have NS — truth is nobody will know how effective it is until something bad happens — but that it’s really pointless to compare.

I have a former colleague of my age who is a Malaysian-turned-Singaporean holding a cushy job in our civil service and living in a HDB flat. When he told me he never did NS, my reaction was more of “you lucky bastard!” than to curse at him for taking advantage of our system, as some unhappy Singaporeans may accuse him of. I do not fault him partly because, as we know, the problem is with the system and partly because I don’t feel I’m entitled to anything different for having served NS. In fact, such a notion of entitlement or being more deserving of whatever it is had never occurred to me until recent years when this issue became a hot topic.

Anonymous said...

Singapore has the second longest NS in the world now, after Israel. (After Taiwan and South Korea cut their NS.)

Even Germany and other Western European countries at the height of the Cold War did not have such a long NS while providing an effective defence for 50 years.

I've always believed there are three blocs of NS systems. The Western Europeans who had a practical length of NS (NS measured in months), the now defunct Soviet bloc (about 2 years) and the kiasu East Asian countries including Taiwan (formerly 2 years), South Korea (formerly 26 months) and us who had some of the longest NS in the world but have since cut.

Of course, some people will come and draw comparisons like the US providing a nuclear umbrella to Germany etc.

ah seng said...

If you hate NS so much, please migrate elsewhere. Shame on you as a Singaporean... If no NS, we would be annexed by Malaysia and Indonesia long time ago... Please pack your bags and go away, so many unpatriotic scumb*gs here.

Anonymous said...

Aiyoh, like that also can say meh.

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit on ah seng's side of the issue, the world is so globalised nowadays that you can literally immigrate anywhere. I got a cousin in Iceland and an aunt in New Zealand, so if Singapore is so bad, why not just move? Why stay and complain so much? PR out and the army can't even touch you, so why waste time complaining about it when you can just move? Unless you can't be bothered to solve a problem and would rather someone else do everything for you, in which case, no matter NS or no NS, you will always find something to complain about. Because the problem isn't with the system.

Anonymous said...

My statement is a purely technical view, not a political complaint. I did not say I am not happy
to defend Singapore or to serve NS. If one cannot even raise the topic, then what is the point of making everyone serve in silence by force of law?

Anonymous said...

Well, you think your father is Tony Tan or LKY or LHL...can go and leave whenever you like meh...