March 29, 2010 (by SSgt. Eric Burks) - Osan Airmen and aircraft supporting exercise Commando Sling 10 returned home recently, following three weeks of valuable training with the Republic of Singapore Air Force at Paya Lebar AB, Singapore.
Airmen from Osan AB gather for a group photo during exercise Commando Sling 10 at Paya Lebar AB. [Courtesy photo]
Six F-16 Fighting Falcons, pilots and support personnel from the 36th Fighter Squadron, along with Airmen from the 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and 51st Operations Support Squadron, participated in the second iteration of the exercise Feb. 22 through Mar. 12.
The annual Commando Sling series began in 1990 and consists of a series of three deployments running from December 2009 through July 2010. The exercise provides combined air combat training for U.S. Air Force and Republic of Singapore
Air Force fighter units. It enables airmen to sharpen their air combat skills, improve procedures to conduct air operations at a non-U.S. base, and enhance partnerships between participating air forces and nations.
"The unique opportunity to fly, fight, and learn with another extremely capable ally is a vital experience for our pilots and maintainers that not only improve our skills as warriors, but also fosters closer ties between the Republic of Singapore Air Force and U.S. Air Force," said Lt. Col. Ralph Waite, 36th FS
The exercise includes both Osan F-16 and RSAF
F-16 and F-5 Tiger aircraft, which gives the pilots a chance to train against a dissimilar adversary - a valuable opportunity not often found here.
"Sorties focus on air-to-air missions, so this is a great opportunity to hone those skills," said Capt. Aaron Brown, 36th FS pilot.
Training employs a "building block" approach where pilots begin flying basic sorties against one other aircraft, then move on to larger, more advanced training scenarios involving as many as 10 aircraft, said Captain Brown. The mission types range from dissimilar basic fighter maneuvers to air combat tactics.
Commando Sling isn't the first time most 36th FS pilots have engaged with their RSAF counterparts. F-16 pilots from both air forces undergo flight training at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.
"We both learn together there," said Captain Brown, "so they're trained to the same standards and objectives."
"I have a lot of confidence in our coalition partners," he said. "We'd be willing to fight alongside these guys any time."
Outstanding support from the U.S. Air Force's 497th Combat Training Squadron and the RSAF made the deployment amazingly smooth, said Captain Brown. "They did a great job hosting - it really exceeded our expectations and there were no hiccups."
In addition to Commando Sling exercises, Singapore and the United States participate in the multilateral exercises Cope Tiger and Cobra Gold, both held annually in Thailand