I have been travelling since NDP 2015, a week to Japan, and another to Indonesia. While there has been a slight drought with military development and news days after NDP, good news came in days before 1 September, the Republic of Singapore Air Force Day. The F-16 Peace Carvin II detachment in the USA clinched three awards – “Best Aircraft Maintenance Unit”, “Best Overall Mission Commander” and “Best Personnel Rescue Warrior” – during the latest Exercise Red Flag-15-4 that took place at Nellis Air Force Base, USA, from 17 to 28 August 2015.
The RSAF is a regular at Red Flag exercises, and this time, deploying nine F-16C/D f, three CH-47 helicopters, from Peace Carvin II and Peace Prairie detachments. Red Flag 15-4 have about 91 aircraft from US (including F-22s from Hawaii) and foreign battle hardened air forces from Jordan, and Israel.
Pilots go through the rite of passage where they start from flying as a wingman, and slowly commanding a wingman, a package and eventually the entire mission. While the tiny training airspace in South China Sea does not give realistic training space, the RSAF is also not able to aggregate the numbers for a large force employment exercise. The RSAF grabs on every opportunity it gets to train their pilots in these exercises, such as Ex Cope Tiger, Ex Pich Black and seen here, Exercise Red Flag. Flying with new found allies Jordan and Israeli Air Force give RSAF pilots valuable lessons, remembering that the Jordanian Air force is actively involved in Operational Inherent Resolve and not to mention the Israeli Air Force is one of the most experienced flyers around, flying the same aircraft combo (F-15/16) as the RSAF. The knowledge exchange (one way or another) will give our pilots practical lessons and tips form these veterans. The flying awards are testaments to quality RSAF pilots, their ability to plan and orchestrate large mission package for Offensive/Defensive Counter Air and Combat Search and Rescue missions with the heli boys.
RSAF engineers have chalked up numerous maintenance awards in the USA, from weapon loading to aircraft maintenance, RSAF engineers excelled even in a foreign land, more so a foreign base away from their homebase at Luke AFB. The RSAF has always been known for high aircraft availability and reliability, which in a wartime scenario will be extremely crucial in sending as many planes up to defend the skies.
As the RSAF matures to become a deadly fighting force, I am sure there to be more awards to come. These three award is a fitting gift to how far the RSAF has come from a Cessna 172. Happy Birthday RSAF.