Around 750 soldiers from Singapore’s Armed Forces have been conducting a biannual drill at a firing range in the US state of Arizona that is 20 times the size of the 719-square-kilometer city-state.
The two-week drill, called Exercise Forging Sabre, has been in full swing since November 28 near the Luke Airbase in Phoenix, the capital of Arizona.
This is the sixth time the drill has been staged since it began in 2005.
Singapore’s semi-government mouthpiece Lianhe Zaobao reported that about half of the 750-strong battalion taking part in the air-ground wargame are Singaporean servicemen already stationed in the US for training, while the rest were drawn from conscripts back home.
An Israeli-built Heron-1 long-endurance reconnaissance drone and the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, a US-made truck mounted with a multiple rocket launcher, were deployed for the first time.
The servicemen also used the Singapore Army’s fleet of Apache AH-64D attack helicopters (armed with a chain gun under its fuselage and four hardpoints for carrying missiles and rocket pods), as well as the CH-47 Chinook replenishment helicopters, which have one of the world’s heaviest lifting capabilities.
F-15 and 16 jet fighters were spotted ripple-dropping all-weather “smart” munitions such as the 2,000lb GBU-31s.
The drill aims to fit together reconnaissance and attack capabilities, as well as sensing and striking ground and air-force “assets” in a real combat scenario – to “out-sense, out-smart, out-shoot the enemy”.
“With limited air and land space in Singapore, we need overseas exercises like this for our airmen and soldiers to hone their skills and maintain a high level of operational readiness,” Singapore’s Defence Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
Aside from these exercises, the US also backs the Singapore Air Force’s training detachments to fly and maintain F-15s, F-16s and Apaches, plus the Singapore Army’s HIMARS (rocket artillery) training.