The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) celebrated 20 years of helicopter training in Oakey, Australia. Senior Minister of State for Defence Mr Heng Chee How and Australia Assistant Minister for Defence Mr David Fawcett co-officiated at the commemorative event held in Warriors’ Camp, Rockhampton. The commemorative event was hosted by Commander of the RSAF’s Participation Command Brigadier-General Jonathan Tan. As part of the celebrations, Mr Heng and Mr Fawcett unveiled a symbolic mural of the Super Puma and Chinook helicopters depicting the RSAF’s training in Oakey.
Speaking at the event, Mr Heng said, “This anniversary celebration is yet another reflection of the deep and longstanding friendship between our two defence establishments, and between Australia and Singapore.” Mr Heng also thanked the Australian Department of Defence and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) for their long-standing support in hosting the RSAF’s training in Oakey. He said, “I would like to express our gratitude to the Australian Government for being a special friend, a trusted partner and a gracious host, and on this occasion, especially for the steadfast support for the RSAF detachments in Oakey over these past 20 years… On this joyous occasion, I wish the RSAF helicopter detachment a very happy 20th Anniversary of training in Oakey. And we look forward to continued strong partnership between Singapore and Australia, MINDEF Singapore and the Australian Department of Defence, and between the SAF and the ADF.”
In 1996, then-Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Dr Tony Tan and Australia’s then-Minister for Defence Mr Ian Mclachlan signed the Oakey agreement, which allowed the RSAF to deploy up to 16 helicopters to train its pilots in the area. The RSAF’s Super Puma helicopters first arrived at Oakey Army Aviation Centre on 1 September 1998 to form the Oakey Training Centre. In 2012, Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen and then-Australian Minister for Defence Stephen Smith signed an agreement for the continued conduct of the RSAF’s helicopter training in Oakey for another 15 years till 2027.
Today, the RSAF’s detachment in Oakey has expanded to include the Chinook helicopters. The large airspace at Oakey allows the RSAF to conduct challenging and realistic training, as well as integrated training with the Singapore Army to sharpen the Singapore Armed Forces’ edge in air projection and air-land integrated operations.
In addition to Oakey, the RSAF also conducts flying training at the Flying Training Institute Detachment in Pearce, Western Australia, and at the Air Grading Centre in Tamworth, New South Wales. The RSAF and the Royal Australian Air Force interact regularly through exercises such as Exercise Pitch Black, visits and professional exchanges, which deepen the close and long-standing ties between the two air forces.
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