Drive to Sembawang Airbase (SBAB) and you will find yourself passing through lush greenery from the golf course nearby. It is no coincidence that SBAB and the neighbouring Dieppe Barracks in situated next to a golf course, well, so is Bedok Camp. The trump card of helicopter operations is the fact that they can virtually land anywhere with an open clearing, be it a football field or aplot of rice paddy.
In September/October 2014, the RSAF held its biggest make-shift heli base exercise in Yishun Reclaim Land and Sembawang Country Club, turning civilian real estate into a working war fighting centre to command launch and recovery, as well as to refuel, rearm and repair helicopters.
This Ex. Wallaby 2015, it seems that the RSAF is doing just that in Rockhampton Australia. Moving away from the airport concept, the RSAF has taken over the Australian Army Defence Support Group (DSG) Camp Rocky facility behind Rockhampton Airport, and renaming it as Warriors Camp. There two CH-47SD Chinooks and five AH-64D Apache Longbows were parked in the open field, amongst field equipment. Australian spotters has seen the centre of gravity of operations has shifted to the Warriors camp, and now Rocky Airport has become more of a transit point for the pilots of the Super Pumas, C130 and F-16D+ where it is parked.
The Warriors Camp is probably a fighting capability the RSAF is trying to exercise, especially useful in a wartime scenario, especially as your base get bombed out or as one follows the Army into unfamiliar territories. Forward operating base, as it is known worldwide, it test the RSAF ability to set up and run its own camp void of any proper infrastructure. While aircraft departure from Warriors Camp is still under the control of Rocky Tower, there is evidence that the RSAF has its own little playground in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, as there are times helicopters are not seen returning to Rockhampton for the night. Spotters has also seen Air Force Engineers conducting heavy maintenance such as blade change, out in the open.
The 65 day Exercise Wallaby will fully test the extend of RSAF’s helicopter outfield capabilities, as compared to less than a week back at home. RSAF planners are now able to gauge how long a Chinook will be at its limits, after being utilised day in day out for consecutive days, and how fast AFE are able to service the aircraft back to operation.