Thursday, December 12, 2013
Peace Carvin II marks 20th anniversary
United States Air Force Luke Air Force Base, Arizona: The sun never sets on Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) flight training, thanks to a strong and enduring partnership with the United States that has allowed the RSAF to conduct air combat training from American soil.
This morning, defence officials from both countries took a moment to mark a fresh milestone in defence relations: the 20th anniversary of Peace Carvin II, the RSAF F-16 warplane training detachment at Luke Air Force Base, which is the world's largest F-16 training base.
PC2 is the RSAF's longest running overseas training detachment.
Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen, who is here to visit the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Forging Sabre war games, thanked the United States Air Force (USAF) for its strong support for the PC2 detachment in decades past.
Speaking at a simple parade to mark the occasion, Dr Ng noted that the RSAF detachment at Luke had the opportunity to benchmark themselves with the USAF and had achieved full operational capability with its single-seat F-16C and twin-seat F-16D warplanes in less than five years - a credible achievement for the RSAF when it introduced a new model of the F-16 multirole warplane two decades ago.
"This continuing engagement with the USAF has allowed the RSAF's combat capabilities to grow from strength to strength, by developing new concepts and advanced tactics. This included new weaponry that could strike beyond visual range and with greater accuracy," said Dr Ng.
The detachment's presence in the US has also allowed RSAF pilots and ground crew the opportunity to take part in large scale air warfare exercises that have involved as many as 100 warplanes in the air at the same time. These include USAF two-sided war readiness exercises such as Red Flag, Green Flag, Combat Archer, Night Flag and Maple Flag with the Royal Canadian Air Force.
"These allow our airmen to train in a realistic and challenging environment to sharpen their aerial combat skills and flying competencies," Dr Ng added.
Statistics shared by the PC2 detachment speak volumes of the intensity of training here. This is no holiday camp: more than 50,000 flying hours, 92 live air-to-air missiles of three types launched, 2,492 bombs of five types dropped during war games.
As the sun goes down in Singapore, the PC2 detachment prepares for a fresh training day under almost continuously blue skies that allow flight planners to maximise training for pilots to hone their mastery of the 12 RSAF F-16s at Luke AFB. The presence of the United States military's Barry M. Goldwater Range, minutes away by fighter jet, is a boon to combat training as it allows pilots and WSO fighters to practice air-to-ground and air-to-air tactics using live ammunition.
USAF Lieutenant-Colonel Kevin S. Cruikshank, commander of the 425th Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Wing, which is the joint USAF-RSAF command that steers PC2, commended RSAF personnel for their professionalism when sent war games outside their comfort zone. These include winter training in Alaska.
"When you take somebody and put them in an environment they are not used to and they not only adapt but excel in it, it's a great boost to their confidence. This knowledge that they can do it," LTC Cruikshank said.
He also noted that RSAF airmen had done well during large-scale air warfare exercises, including helming leadership positions that involved conceptualising, planning, briefing and directing air operations for large numbers of warplanes.
The partnership forged 20 years ago has paid handsome dividends for the US in many ways as it laid groundwork for the RSAF to set up other detachments in the US. Along the way, US defence contractors and industry benefitted from spinoffs as Singapore purchased US equipment or paid for assorted items, such as transport and housing, needed to relocate and house RSAF personnel in the continental United States.
At present, the RSAF flies four detachments in the US. These are the PC2 detachment with F-16C/Ds, Peace Vanguard with AH-64D Apache attack helicopters, Peace Prairie with CH-47D Chinooks and Peace Carvin V with F-15SGs.
"Let me also thank the mayors and the local communities here for your gracious hospitality in welcoming the RSAF personnel and their families into your midst,"said Dr Ng."Your warm friendship has given our people a home away from home."
Posted by David Boey at 8:02 AM