MELBOURNE, Australia — Singapore has stepped up its overseas training exercises over the past two months as the land-scarce Southeast Asian nation looks to resume its normal military training cycle that was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This includes an integrated sense-and-strike exercise involving the Army and the Republic of Singapore Air Force in the U.S. state of Idaho, which ran Sept. 14-25 and saw the debut of an improved artificial intelligence-enabled command-and-control system.
The Singaporean military also carried out a six-week, tri-service exercise in a training area on Australia’s eastern seaboard, while Air Force jets conducted air combat training at a dedicated range in northern Australia.
Closer to home, the island nation hosted ships and aircraft from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom for a multinational exercise in the waters and airspace off Malaysia as the five countries marked the 50th anniversary of Five Power Defence Arrangements pact.
What happened in Idaho?
The exercise in Idaho, code-named Forging Sabre, involved 200 personnel from Singapore’s Army and another 600 from its Air Force. The drill took place at Mountain Home Air Force Base, which is home to a mixed American-Singaporean training squadron flying Singaporean Boeing F-15SG Eagle multirole fighters.
Singapore debuted the improved Command and Control Information System, which is under development by its Defence Science and Technology Agency. The C2 platform can recommend to its operator what it believes is the best means by which to carry out a strike against a target. The system makes it recommendation based on factors such as mission success, impact on other missions, survivability of assets, timeliness and resource effectiveness, while laying out various consequences and considerations.
It is still a man-in-the-loop system, however, with the operator or a commander making the final decision on whether to accept the recommendation.
The exercise also involved Lockheed Martin M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, F-16C/D Fighting Falcon jets and Boeing AH-64D Apache helicopters. The aircraft came from Singaporean training detachments based in Arizona.
Meanwhile, in Australia ...
On the other side of the world, Republic of Singapore Air Force F-15 and F-16 fighter jets deployed from Singapore to Darwin, Australia, in early October. Together with a Gulfstream G550 airborne early warning aircraft, the jets dropped live and inert guided and unguided bombs, and they conducted air combat training at the Delamere Air Weapons Range.
Further east, the service’s newly delivered CH-47F Chinook helicopters assigned to the Oakey training detachment in Australia supported Exercise Wallaby, an integrated tri-service exercise that saw 580 Singaporean personnel take part.
The exercise, held at Australia’s Shoalwater Bay training area, saw the CH-47Fs carry out troop lift and transport operations, as well as amphibious assault exercises operating from a Republic of Singapore Navy landing ship.
Singapore’s small landmass of some 280 square miles, as well as its congested airspace and confined waters, mean much of its military training is conducted overseas.
In addition to deploying its forces to train in Australia and Guam, it also has several aircraft detachments permanently based in Australia, France and the United States, although its overseas training deployments have been severely curtailed due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.
Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.