Senior Minister of State for Defence Mr Heng Chee How visited the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)'s 150 Squadron at Cazaux Air Base, France, last evening (SG time).
During the visit hosted by Chief of Air Force Brigadier-General Kelvin Khong, Mr Heng reviewed a parade by the French Air Force (FAF) and received a brief on the RSAF detachment's training in Cazaux. He also met the families of the RSAF personnel deployed in Cazaux and boarded the M-346 Advanced Jet Trainer aircraft for a familiarisation ride.
Highlighting how the RSAF's detachment is a part of the strategic partnership between Singapore and France, Mr Heng said, "The fact that we have been here 20 years, being able to train in this large expanse of airspace, is something very valuable to Singapore. Being able to train alongside the French Air Force, a very professional air force, all this speaks volumes of the practical value of our collaboration. For this we are very grateful and we want to say thanks once again to our French counterparts."
Mr Heng also said that a strong and capable defence must include a strong air force, which has the ability to train its pilots well. "Our pilot trainees have been able to exercise and train and hone their skills in these skies – huge expanse of airspace. This gives us the edge. This gives us the ability to develop and improve upon the quality and our cutting-edge in the air," said Mr Heng.
The RSAF has conducted flying training in France since 1998, and the detachment celebrated its 20th anniversary last year in a ceremony officiated by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen. Cazaux Air Base is home to 150 Squadron and its personnel, including instructor pilots, Air Force Engineers, aircrew trainees and support staff.
The squadron operates the M-346 Advanced Jet Trainer aircraft and prepares aircrew trainees to operate the F-15SG and F-16 fighter aircraft. Such overseas training and detachments allow the RSAF to overcome the land and airspace constraints in Singapore.
The RSAF and FAF interact regularly through visits, professional exchanges and cross-attendance of courses. These interactions are testament to the strong and broad-based defence relations between Singapore and France, and have strengthened the mutual understanding and camaraderie amongst personnel of both air forces.