A trainer plane sporting livery featuring the Australian and Singaporean flags is seen at Base Pearce in Western Australia. Photo: Handout
A trainer plane sporting livery featuring the Australian and Singaporean flags is seen at Base Pearce in Western Australia. Photo: Handout

Singapore and Australia have launched celebrations at several military camps and airstrips across Australia to mark the 25th anniversary of defense and military training cooperation between the two countries.

A flight-training detachment of the Singaporean Air Force has been based in Base Pearce, north of the Western Australia city of Perth, since 1993.

Celebrations there included a combined flypast by the Pilatus PC-21 trainer aircraft by both air forces.

Using the PC-21, an advanced tandem-seat turboprop trainer, the Singaporean detachment conducts a nine-month basic wings course for its pilot and weapons systems officer cadets.

Singapore last year signed an agreement with Australia to extend its training access at Base Pearce for another 25 years until 2043.

Singapore also conducts flight training at the Air Grading Center in Tamworth, New South Wales, and has had a Super Puma and Chinook helicopter detachment at the Oakey Training Center in Queensland since 1998.

Singapore’s Defense Ministry says the large airspace at Base Pearce and Oakey allows its airmen to conduct challenging and realistic training, as well as joint drills with ground troops.

Australian and Singaporean troops are seen next to a Chinook helicopter on board the Singaporean landing platform dock ship Resolution during this year’s Exercise Trident. Photo: Handout

Singaporean and Australian troops just wrapped up their participation in Exercise Trident 2018 at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland last week.

Under the Singapore-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, signed in 2015, the two forces are committed to enhancing bilateral defense, including developing Exercise Trident as the signature bilateral joint military exercise.

This year’s drill involved more than 1,300 personnel from both countries in a battalion-level amphibious operation to enhance inter-operability.

Land-scarce Singapore has to overcome its physical constraints in landmass and airspace so that its armed forces can learn to fight in an integrated way.

As early as the 1980s, the city-state began seeking defense cooperation with its larger neighbors and far-flung allies including Australia and the US to rent camps and fields to train its troops and pilots.

Singapore operates its aircraft at several overseas locations to provide greater exposure to its pilots, with F-16C/D Fighting Falcons, KC-135R Stratotankers, AH-64D Apaches and CH-47SD Chinook helicopters based in the US, Marchetti S-211s, PC-21s, and Super Puma helicopters in Australia, and TA-4SU Super Skyhawks in France. Almost a third of the force’s inventory is based outside Singapore.