Senior Minister of State for Defence Mr Heng Chee How visited the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)'s Flying Training Institute (FTI) Detachment in Pearce, Australia, for their 25th anniversary celebrations earlier today. This morning in Perth, Mr Heng was also hosted to breakfast by Governor of Western Australia and former Minister for Defence Kim Beazley, AC. During the breakfast, Mr Heng and Mr Beazley reaffirmed the close and long-standing relationship between Singapore and Australia. Mr Heng also thanked Mr Beazley for Australia's strong support for the Singapore Armed Force's training in Western Australia.
The visit to the RSAF's FTI detachment was hosted by Commander of the RSAF's Air Force Training Command Colonel Kevin Goh at the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Pearce. During the visit, Mr Heng witnessed a combined flypast by the RSAF's and RAAF's Pilatus PC-21 trainer aircraft, unveiled the commemorative plaque, and participated in a symbolic tree-planting ceremony.
Speaking at the event, Mr Heng thanked the RAAF for its support for the RSAF's training in Pearce. He said, "The Singapore Armed Forces and the Australian Defence Force share a long history of military cooperation, having extensive interactions that include bilateral and multilateral exercises, mutual visits, and professional exchanges. I am especially delighted that the RSAF's presence here in Pearce has allowed people from both Air Forces to build strong friendships through professional exchanges... The progressive expansion of the RSAF's Pearce Detachment's mission is only possible because of the close relationship between Singapore and Australia."
The FTI conducts the nine-month Basic Wings Course for the RSAF's Pilot and Weapons Systems Officer (WSO) trainees. The trainees operate the PC-21 aircraft, an advanced tandem-seat turboprop aircraft trainer that allows trainees to build a strong foundation in flying fundamentals. The FTI also conducts courses for the RSAF’s flying instructors.
The RSAF signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the RAAF to establish the flying training detachment at RAAF Base Pearce in March 1993. In 2017, Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen and then-Australian Minister for Defence Marise Payne signed the "Agreement concerning the RSAF Flying Training Institute Detachment at RAAF Base Pearce" (Pearce treaty) as an upgrade to the MOU. The Pearce treaty extends the RSAF's training access at RAAF Base Pearce for another 25 years until 2043.
The RSAF also conducts flying training at the Air Grading Centre in Tamworth, New South Wales, and has a helicopter detachment at the Oakey Training Centre in Queensland. The RSAF and the RAAF 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.