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Monday December 12, 2011

SAF stages complex war game in Arizona

WITHIN mere minutes of spotting a car travelling on a dusty track in the United States’ south-western desert, the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s (RSAF) latest and most lethal “smart” bomb found and hit its target.

The 1.6 million-hectare Barry M. Goldwater Training Area in Arizona – about 19 times the size of Singapore – was where the RSAF dropped the Laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions (Jdams) bomb for the first time on Friday.

The area was also the battleground for one of the Singapore Armed Forces’ (SAF) biggest war games – and the most complex uni­lateral one – in the United States.

Codenamed Forging Sabre, the exercise, the third since the series started in 2005, was a dry run for the modernised or third-generation SAF.

Chief of Air Force Ng Chee Meng, who observed the proceedings, said putting the Laser Jdams – made by US defence firm Boeing – into action meant that RSAF would be sharper and more precise when “killing off mobile targets at speed”.

He added that RSAF pilots would not have to be exposed to high risks unnecessarily when hunting down the enemy.

At Friday’s integrated live-fire attack – the finale of a 14-day exercise – there was no deafening big bang or balls of orange flames spiralling skywards.

Instead, there were dull thuds, followed by puffs of smoke and dust, when the Laser Jdams bombs, armour-piercing Hellfire missiles and rockets hit their targets.

It was game over for the enemy, which had been “hammered” by the coordinated thrust of Singa­pore’s 450-plus airmen and commandos as well as 25 warplanes.

They were the F-15SG and F-16C/D fighter jets, Apache attack helicopters and Chinook heavy-lifting vehicles from the RSAF’s four detachments in Arizona, Idaho and Texas.

Friday’s show of force was the result of months of preparations and drills to test how the men and machines were tightly linked by a network of information and could, as one unified fighting force, finish off enemy forces with a deadlier punch.

Also witnessing the final outcome were senior SAF officers, including the exercise director and commander of the RSAF’s Air Combat Command, Brig-Gen Lim Yeong Kiat. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

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