A Singaporean Air Force KC-135R tanker aircraft providing air-to-air refuelling to a Royal Thai Air Force F-16A fighter during a flying training exercise with Thailand and the US held in March. Photo: Handout

The Singaporean military has held a flurry of drills with its American counterparts in the first quarter of the year, with the latest one being a major exercise this month alongside the US Marine Corps, the 23rd running of an annual bilateral drill.

The exercise, coded Valiant Mark, was held in Singapore’s Bedok military base where around 900 members of the city state’s infantry brigades, battalion guards, artillery battalions and marine regiment compared notes with troops from the US 7th Marine Regiment.

Local papers revealed that the Singaporean Air Force also deployed four Apache assault choppers, two Chinook helicopters and two AS332 Super Puma helicopters to support the exercise, which culminated in a battalion heli-borne mission including joint planning as well as mock assaults.

Other exercise elements over the two-week drill included live-firing, jungle training and urban operations training.

Launched in 1991, Exercise Valiant Mark underscores long-standing bilateral defense cooperation between Singapore and the US.

The two militaries interact regularly through a number of bilateral and multilateral exercises, professional exchanges as well as engaging in cross-attendance of courses and seminars with the aim of strengthening the interoperability of both armed forces.

Troops from the Singapore Armed Forces and the US Marine Corps conducting urban operations training during Exercise Valiant Mark 2019. Photo: Handout
An F-15 fighter with the Singaporean Air Force. Photo: Handout
A Singaporean Air Force A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport on display at Changi Air Base. Photo: Handout

In March, Singapore, the United States and Thailand also celebrated 25 Years of trilateral Exercise Cope Tiger, held this year in Thailand.

Conducted in two phases, this year’s drill comprised a command post exercise held in Singapore at the end of 2018 and flying training phase in Thailand, which involved a total of 69 aircraft, 29 ground-based air defense systems and about 2,000 personnel from the three nations, according to Singapore’s defense ministry.

Singapore fielded 550 airmen and aircraft including seven F-15 and 12 F-16 fighters, one G550 airborne early warning aircraft and one KC-135R tanker aircraft.

Singapore also took part in Exercise Red Flag – Nellis, hosted by the US Air Force at the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, where its airmen clinched the “Outstanding Aircraft Maintenance Unit” award at the exercise.

The force flew six F-15SG fighters and more than 100 personnel to the US to hone skills with aviators from other participating nations including Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

One F-15 engaged with a Norwegian Air Force F-35 jet in a mock dogfight. The US Air Force’s 64th Aggressor Squadron acted as an adversarial force for the drill, which employed advanced tactics and electronic warfare.

Moreover, Commander of the US Pacific Air Forces General Charles Brown Jr. and Commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command Admiral Philip Davidson both visited Singapore in March.

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