June 30, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - In an exercise to see how fast the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) can recall its overseas-based assets, last Saturday four of its F-16 Fighting Falcons flew 17,000km from Arizona in the United States to Singapore in six days.
RSAF F-16D #96031 on take-off. RSAF F-16Ds are based at Cannon AFB in New Mexico for training, operated by the 428th FTS. Notice the tailband, a smaller version of the RSAF lion roundel in red on a black background. [Photo by William Gilson
In between, they stopped at two air bases in Hawaii and Guam, and refuelled in mid-air six to eight times during each of the three legs of the journey over the Pacific Ocean, using the air force's KC-135R tanker-planes.
This is the third time that the air force has conducted a long-range redeployment exercise. The previous ones were last year and in 2000.
Preparations for the exercise involved extensive planning and coordination with the US Air Force
, such as arrangements for landing clearances, pre-positioning of spares and other logistics support at the various stopover points.
The F-16s belong to the 428th Fighter Squadron at Cannon AFB
. This Peace Carvin III squadron is a hybrid US Air Force/Republic of Singapore
Air Force (RSAF
) F-16 Fighter Squadron manned by highly experienced USAF instructor pilots, maintenance and support personnel. Since March 2000 it is fully equipped and it operates 12 RSAF-owned block 52
The RSAF has fighter jets and helicopters stationed at several facilities in countries such as the US, Australia and France, where pilots and support staff undergo training or are put through their paces in exercises with other air forces.