Singapore and Australia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Military Training and Training Area Development in Australia in 2016 under the bilateral Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP). The MOU provided Singapore with enhanced and expanded military training area access in Australia over a period of 25 years, and for both countries to jointly develop military training areas and facilities in Australia.
The MOU has been elevated to a Treaty on Military Training and Training Area Development in Australia on 23 Mar 2020. Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen and Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds signed the Treaty, which was witnessed by both Prime Ministers. The Treaty marks a significant milestone for the CSP as well as for the bilateral defence relationship.
Treaty on Military Training and Training Area Development
Under the Treaty, both countries will jointly develop military training areas and facilities in an expanded Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) and the new Greenvale Training Area (GVTA) in Queensland, Australia. Facilities to be built under the Treaty will be mutually agreed upon by both countries, and procurement undertaken by Australia will be carried out in a transparent, open and competitive manner.
The expanded SWBTA and the GVTA are expected to be completed by 2024 and 2028 respectively. Upon completion, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will be able to conduct large-scale integrated training across all three Services for up to 18 weeks, involving up to 14,000 personnel and up to 2,400 vehicles and equipment annually for 25 years in training areas approximately 10 times the size of Singapore. This allows the SAF to meet its growing requirements for motorised and armoured live-firing training, as well as combined arms and joint training to hone its capabilities as a modern and integrated fighting force.
Advanced training facilities equipped with advanced targetry and instrumentation, such as the Combined Arms Air-Land Ranges and Urban Operations Live-Firing Facilities, will be built within the expanded SWBTA and the GVTA. The Combined Arms Air-Land Ranges allow the Singapore Army and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) to train together with tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, drones, artillery and other combined arms platforms, while the Urban Operations Live-Firing Facilities enable various air and combined arms platforms to conduct live-firing in a realistic urban environment.
The expanded military training areas and advanced training facilities will benefit both armed forces and deepen defence cooperation. Steady progress has been made in the joint development of training areas and training facilities, including the completion of an ammunition storage building in 2019.
Exercises in the SWBTA
Exercise Wallaby is the SAF's largest overseas exercise involving air, land and sea components and is conducted annually in the SWBTA, an area about four times the size of Singapore. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the SAF's training in the SWBTA. Inaugurated in 1990, the exercise has grown in scope and scale with realistic and challenging training scenarios, and demonstrates the capabilities of the 3rd Generation SAF.
Exercise Trident, the signature bilateral joint exercise between the SAF and the Australian Defence Force, which involves air, land and sea components is also conducted in the SWBTA. Exercise Trident provides opportunities for professional exchanges and enhances interoperability between both armed forces. In addition to the SWBTA in Queensland, the SAF also conducts training in other training areas in Australia, such as Pearce, Western Australia; Oakey, Queensland; and Tamworth, New South Wales.