Singapore and France share a strategic partnership, and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)'s Advanced Jet Training detachment at Cazaux Air Base is one aspect of this partnership between the two countries, said Senior Minister of State for Defence Mr Heng Chee How. He also noted the importance of such overseas training opportunities and detachments for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
"The fact that we've been here 20 years, being able to train in this large expanse of airspace, is something very valuable to Singapore."
"Being able to train alongside the French Air Force, a very professional air force – all this speaks volumes of the practical value of our collaboration. For this we are very grateful and we want to say thanks once again to our French counterparts," he said.
Mr Heng said this during his visit to the Republic of Singapore Air Forces' (RSAF's) 150 Squadron (SQN) at Cazaux Air Base in France on 19 Jun. The squadron operates the M-346 Advanced Jet Trainer aircraft and prepares pilot trainees to operate the F-15SG and F-16 fighter aircraft.
Since 1998, the RSAF has deployed its personnel including instructor pilots, Air Force Engineers, aircrew trainees and support staff to France for flying training.
During the visit hosted by Chief of Air Force Brigadier-General Kelvin Khong, Mr Heng reviewed a parade by the French Air Force and received a brief on the RSAF detachment's training in Cazaux. He also met the families of the RSAF personnel stationed there and took a familiarisation flight on the M-346 Advanced Jet Trainer aircraft.
Mr Heng also noted that a strong and capable defence must include a strong air force, which has the ability to train its pilots well. "Our pilot trainees have been able to exercise and train and hone their skills in these skies – huge expanse of airspace. This gives us the edge. This gives us the ability to develop and improve upon the quality and our cutting-edge in the air."
Major (MAJ) John Sng, Officer Commanding of 150 SQN, was part of the pioneer group of M-346 Advanced Jet Trainer instructors. He has seen many trainees graduate from the Fighter Wings Course and Weapon Systems Officer Course.
MAJ Sng explained that training with the M-346 Advanced Jet Trainer provides better understanding of the RSAF's fighter aircraft. "In Cazaux, aircrew are also able to train in a wide range of realistic missions, such training is important for aspiring fighter pilots and weapon systems officers to effectively operate as the RSAF's frontline fighters," said MAJ Sng.
Mr Heng's visit to Cazaux Air Base is part of an official visit to France from 17 to 20 June. He also attended the 53rd International Paris Air Show and called on French officials on the sidelines of the event.
He met with Minister of State reporting to the French Minister of the Armed Forces Geneviève Darrieussecq, President of the Senate Committee for Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces Christian Cambon, as well as President of the National Defence and Armed Forces of the National Assembly Jean-Jacques Bridey earlier this week.
They reaffirmed the two countries' commitment to strengthening bilateral defence cooperation in areas such as defence technology, counter-terrorism, and Air Force and Navy cooperation. They also discussed geopolitical and security developments of mutual interest.