RSAF wins award at US exerciseIt is the RSAF's fifth consecutive year winning the Outstanding Aircraft Maintenance Unit award.
// Story by Thrina Tham
// Photos Courtesy of the RSAF
Heavy winds in the open dessert and drastic temperature changes in the day and at night, were part of challenges Military Expert (ME) 2 Danko Macgyver faced at Exercise Red Flag – Nellis, held at Nellis Air Force Base, in Nevada, United States (US).
He was part of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) personnel participating in the large-scale international exercise over the past two weeks. The exercise concluded on 18 Mar.
As an Air Force Engineer, ME2 Danko's role was to maintain F-16C/D fighter jets – nine of which were deployed for the exercise.
He was also cross-deployed as a Flight Line Chief, to launch and receive the RSAF's fighter aircraft taking part in various missions.
"We had one week of very late night shifts and transitioned to day shifts the following week. The cold weather and winds in the night shifts was tough… at the same time, it got very warm and dry in day time," said the 32-year-old of his first-time experience at Exercise Red Flag – Nellis.
To overcome the challenges, the crew had to be disciplined in meeting their tight turnaround timings, to ensure everyone had enough rest. It also helped that there was strong teamwork between them.
Their efforts clearly paid off: the RSAF clinched the Outstanding Aircraft Maintenance Unit award at the exercise – the fifth consecutive win for the RSAF.
It is also the second such win for the RSAF's Peace Carvin II (PC II) detachment, who were Singapore's representatives for this year. The detachment is based in the Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, US.
"Communication between the pilots and the maintenance crew were very efficient so that we could get a comprehensive debrief for the work to be done to get our aircraft back to serviceability (and ready for the next sortie)," said ME2 Danko.
In total, the exercise involved 55 aircraft from three air forces: the RSAF, Royal Saudi Air Force and United States Air Force (USAF). More that 100 personnel from the RSAF's PC II detachment participated in the exercise.
RSAF's PC II Detachment Commander, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Jonavan Ang, said that the exercise provided an opportunity for his crew to take part in complex and realistic scenarios at an international level.
"In this exercise, we overcame a dedicated air force who employed advanced fighter aircraft, air defence systems and electronic warfare tactics. Such training enhances our abilities to defend Singapore together," said LTC Ang, 44.
He added that the exercise, which the RSAF has taken part in since 1982, allows the RSAF to benchmark itself against other advanced air forces.
"It also gives us the opportunity also to build the defence relationship with different partners and understand each other better," he added.
For F-16 pilot Captain (CPT) Ezor Pang, being appointed as one of the Mission Commanders during the exercise was one of the biggest responsibilities the first-time participant had to face.
The 29-year-old was in charge of leading a night mission, involving over 40 aircraft from all three participating air forces.
"We had to have a game plan; sort out deconfliction issues; all while coordinating about 40 aircraft in the same piece of sky, fighting against an adversary," he said.
CPT Pang performed well and was awarded with a Coin of Excellence by the US Exercise Director. He credited his performance to good preparation, saying: "I went into Exercise Red Flag – Nellis quite prepared because of all the work-up training the squadron had done three months prior to the exercise."
CPT Pang, who has been with PC II for three years, added: "It also helped that I've made friends with our American counterparts. So, no ice-breaking was needed and I could easily relate my plans to them."