SAF Validates Operational Capabilities Through Complex Strike Missions in the US
(Source: Singapore Government; issued Oct 10, 2019)
Senior Minister of State for Defence Mr Heng Chee How visited Exercise Forging Sabre (XFS 19) at Mountain Home Air Force Base (MHAFB), Idaho, US earlier today (Singapore time). The integrated strike exercise, conducted from 30 September to 10 October 19, is the seventh instalment in a series that began in 2005.

Conducted for the first time at MHAFB, XFS 19 involved around 600 personnel from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), including the Singapore Army's Commandos, and assets from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) such as the F-15SG and F-16C/D multi-role fighter aircraft, AH-64D Apache helicopters, Heron 1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), and the inaugural participation of the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport in an overseas exercise.

During the visit, Mr Heng interacted with servicemen and women who participated in the exercise and was also briefed on their different roles as well as how the various vocations worked as an integrated team to successfully execute complex strike missions. Mr Heng also witnessed the SAF's ability to simultaneously seek and destroy multiple static and mobile targets, rapidly and precisely.

Speaking after the visit, Mr Heng expressed his confidence in the capabilities of the SAF, and emphasised the importance of overseas training. He said, "On this visit, I saw for myself the effectiveness of the integration (of the SAF) … in terms of acquiring intelligence about the enemy, and how that then allows them to form a picture to sense-make and to call fire of various kinds onto the enemy targets, both static as well as mobile with great precision and deadly effect. And I think this really speaks very well of the professionalism of our fighting forces… I think the ultimate purpose of all the training is to build an effective fighting force, able to build the sovereignty of Singapore. And to be able to do that, it is not talk only – you really must be able to build that capability.

“To do that, you need realistic training and robust training, using equipment that you acquire, skills that you pick up in an environment and terrain that you will find that is capable of allowing you to fully hone those skills… We are able to do this because of the specific facilities that we are training in here in the United States. This is not something that we have in Singapore and the ability for our forces to train in such terrain enables us to acquire and hone our capabilities much better and faster. And for this, we want to thank once again the US government and the US Air Force for their partnership in allowing us to do so."

XFS19 Exercise Director Brigadier-General Ho Kum Luen added, "The successful execution of integrated strike operations in both daytime and night-time environments is testament to the SAF's capabilities, and to the professionalism and competency of our servicemen and women. Such training opportunities are precious, as the vast land and airspace allow us to simulate realistic and challenging scenarios for our training. We are very grateful to the United States Air Force and the Mountain Home community for the support provided throughout this exercise."

The exercise was witnessed by Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong last week, while Chief of Air Force Major-General (MG) Kelvin Khong accompanied Mr Heng during the visit today.

As part of his programme, Mr Heng will also attend Peace Carvin V[1]'s 10th Anniversary Parade on 11 October (Singapore time), together with MG Khong, Mayor of Mountain Home Mr Rich Sykes, Director of Operations Headquarters Air Combat Command United States Air Force Major General Kevin Huych, and local community leaders.

The US supports the RSAF detachments and the conduct of overseas training exercises in the US. The RSAF has training detachments in the US for F-15SG and F-16C/D fighter aircraft and AH-64D Apache helicopters. Such training enables the SAF to further sharpen its operational capabilities and enhance its operational readiness, and is a testament to the excellent and long-standing bilateral defence relationship between Singapore and the US.

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