Monday 14 December 2015

Exercise Forging Sabre 2015

Few militaries train like SAF, says Ng Eng Hen
Forging Sabre drills provide 'high tempo' and 'complex scenarios', says defence minister
By Jermyn Chow, Defence Correspondent, In Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, The Sunday Times, 13 Dec 2015

Seated inside the F-15SG fighter jet, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen yesterday flew over the rugged terrain of the Arizonian desert at 5,500m above ground to observe how Singapore's air and ground troops worked together to quash the enemy.

He saw how pilots from other F-15s and F-16s exchanged information seamlessly with troops and battle planners to overcome hostile fire and destroy two moving enemy rocket launchers.

The live-fire strike operation is part of the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) most complex unilateral exercise yet, code-named Forging Sabre.

The biennial drill held in the Barry M. Goldwater Training Area, which is 20 times the size of Singapore, is the fifth in the Forging Sabre series that started in 2005.

Back then, as Second Defence Minister, Dr Ng was perched on a rocky hill in the Mojave Desert in California to see how airmen and soldiers experimented with joint strike missions in the inaugural integrated live-firing exercise.

Yesterday's seamless coordinated attacks showed how the SAF has come a long way in the last 10 years as a third-generation (3G) fighting force, Dr Ng told reporters after his 90-minute flight.

Few militaries around the world can train like the SAF at such a "high tempo and with such complex scenarios", he noted.

"It's also because we have steady defence budget spending. We don't have ups and downs. We don't cancel programmes. Platforms that we get, we integrate. We (have) a very strong defence technology community, very strong maintenance."

Dr Ng said the drills provide troops with "the kind of robustness and resilient system to be able to, in each exercise, learn something and then to just improve on it".

In past Forging Sabre drills, men and machines were put through scenarios to tighten their communication and weapons systems network so as to sharpen and multiply their combat power to strike stationary and moving targets.

New weapons systems like the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System were also being put through their paces.

While airborne yesterday, Dr Ng saw how the SAF's latest eye in the sky, the Heron 1 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), successfully spotted and pinpointed, with laser beams, moving hostile targets that had to be destroyed. The UAVs, which were launched in 2012, had to hit the mark in the 17-day, live-firing drill to be declared operational next year.

It was Dr Ng's second time flying in the back seat of a fighter jet - the first time was in 2005 in an F-16.

Before his flight, Dr Ng visited the exercise troops, and mingled with the servicemen and their families who live in Phoenix, Arizona. The south-western city is where the Republic of Singapore Air Force's Peace Carvin II detachment, which operates the F-16s, is based.

During his two-day visit, which ends today, Dr Ng also got a close-up look at the United States Air Force F-35A joint strike fighter (JSF), as Singapore mulls over whether to buy the Lockheed Martin fifth-generation fighter jet. When asked, Dr Ng would say only that defence planners were still evaluating.

Noting, however, that the US Air Force is on track to declare its F-35A models operational by the second half of next year, Dr Ng said: "So the more mature the programme is, the more steady the production lines for JSF, the more boxes are ticked when we evaluate it."

But while Singapore will continue to buy the war machines it needs, Dr Ng said what will define its military might is the ability to integrate them into the fighting force to sharpen its firepower.

"Just the fine-tuning... the (war-fighting) tactics, the ability to find precise options for specific targets and specific needs, is what will define our SAF.

"So I think we're progressing very well and we'll just keep doing that."

Two-month-old baby Evan was fast asleep in the safe hands of his father amidst the hundreds of airmen and women and...
Posted by The Republic of Singapore Air Force on Saturday, December 12, 2015


Comparing the F-15s and F-16s, which I flew in the backseat a couple of years ago, the F-15 is, of course, much more spacious. It’s like first class compared with economy. More spacious. The ride is great and the avionics have improved tremendously. Our pilots are very well trained, completely professional. But what I like about the system is that it’s very, very methodical and we felt very safe. All the processes were complied with. So it was a very educational ride.

- DR NG ENG HEN, on his 90-minute flight on the F-15SG fighter jet. This is the second time that he has flown in a fighter jet, after flying in an F-16 in 2005

<<One of a kind wefie>>“Ronin (MAJ Shewan Goh)” took this wefie of us in the F-15SG cockpit and said it would be hard...
Posted by Ng Eng Hen on Saturday, December 12, 2015


I think this relationship is built on shared values and perspective...We both believe in a strong defence and we also believe in inclusiveness and responsibility, and you need a strong defence to protect our rights. And I think those shared values are what keep this relationship strong.

- DR NG, on why the US-Singapore partnership is important

SAF hits the mark in high-tech live-fire drill in US
Outcome was the culmination of months of fine-tuning by about 600 soldiers, airmen
By Jermyn Chow, Defence Correspondent, In Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, The Straits Times, 12 Dec 2015

From 15,000 feet above ground, the vehicle towing a missile looked like an innocuous trailer lumbering along the dusty plains of the Arizonian desert.

Images captured by Singapore's latest eye in the sky - Heron 1 - flickered on the large screens in front of the 80-strong command post, which flagged the vehicle as the "red force", or enemy target.

F-15 fighter jets and Apache attack helicopters were dispatched and, within seconds, white puffs of smoke were seen on-screen, as Hellfire air-to-ground missiles and the Laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions smart bombs hit home.

There was no sound or fury of a Hollywood-style battleground, but this was one of the deadly endgames in the climax of the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) most complex unilateral war games yesterday.Codenamed Forging Sabre, the live-fire exercise played out over Arizona's Barry M. Goldwater training area, which is 20 times the size of Singapore.

The outcome was the culmination of months of fine-tuning by about 600 soldiers and airmen, armed with the most advanced weapons systems and high-tech war-fighting tactics to deliver a precise strike.

Among them was the Heron 1 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which made its debut in the exercise, the fifth in the Forging Sabre series since 2005.

The UAVs, which were inaugurated in 2012, were deployed to hunt down enemy targets during reconnaissance missions, pinpointing them with laser beams for the warplanes to destroy them.

In this operation, troops relayed real-time data to and from the battle planners who orchestrated the SAF's suite of sensors and shooters through a high-tech battle network to kill six moving targets all at once. Yesterday's integrated strike operation was a demonstration of the firepower of the Third Generation SAF, which started its modernisation drive in 2004.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who observed the mission from the command post, said: "The ability to detect real-time targets, track them, and destroy them when they are moving is something very difficult to do militarily."

He added that being able to execute such complex missions successfully speaks of the professionalism of the SAF.

"We have come a long way and it gives us a lot of confidence in the abilities of the SAF," he said.

Dr Ng was accompanied by the Chief of Air Force, Major-General Hoo Cher Mou, and the exercise director, Colonel Tommy Tan.

F-15 pilot Sivaraj Arumugam said being able to tap the Heron 1s had allowed him to take out targets faster.

"They had already figured it out - what needs to be hit, at what time, even before the fighter jets got airborne.

"We were able to get to the right place at the right time, hit more mobile targets all in the same pass without wasting bombs... it's efficient," he said.

While all targets were hit, the air director, Senior Lieutenant Colonel Liew Boon Ping, said small tactical failures would have happened .

"They might have destroyed the targets, but some processes may not have been followed, causing them to hit the targets slower (than expected)... they will be debriefed and corrected," he said.

The Defence Minister will trade his civilian clothes for a flight suit when he flies in the F-15SG fighter during a live-firing exercise today.

Minister checks out F-35A fighter jet
By Jermyn Chow, The Straits Times, 12 Dec 2015

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE (Arizona) • On the sidelines of Exercise Forging Sabre, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen took time out yesterday to get a close-up look at the United States Air Force F-35A joint strike fighter, fuelling speculation Singapore might be moving closer to its decision on whether to buy the Lockheed Martin fifth-generation fighter jet.

He spent about 45 minutes at the F-35 Academic Training Centre and the 61st Fighter Squadron which operates the F-35s.

Also present were the Chief of Air Force, Major-General Hoo Cher Mou; Deputy Secretary (Policy) Keith Tan; and the head of air operations, Brigadier-General Kelvin Khong, among others.

They were briefed by Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Gette, who commands the 61st Fighter Squadron. Luke Air Force Base houses not only the F-35, but also the F-16 squadrons.

Dr Ng's visit to the F-35A squadron comes two years after he saw the F-35B model in action. Used by the US Marine Corps, the F-35B variant takes off from shorter runways but lands like a helicopter. The F-35A model, however, is configured differently, as it takes off and lands in the conventional way.

Dr Ng had said previously that Singapore was "seriously considering" buying F-35 jets but was in no hurry to replace its fleet of F-5s.

He said in a 2013 interview after viewing the F-35B model: "We recognise that there are aspects to consider, and we will make our deliberate decision... We are in no particular hurry, but we are seriously considering it."

The F-35 programme took a hit in confidence recently, with one of its customers - Canada - announcing that it is likely to scrap its 65-plane order because the aircraft is deemed too expensive.

War games debut of drones marks evolution of SAF
By Jermyn Chow, Defence Correspondent, The Straits Times, 11 Dec 2015

Singapore's most advanced warplanes, drones, weapons and electronic battlefield network will be put to the test today, as the Republic demonstrates the combined firepower of its third-generation armed forces.

Codenamed Forging Sabre, the 17-day live-firing exercise will test how some 600 ground and air troops work together to mount a precise and overwhelming strike against an enemy.

Armed with high-tech combat systems, they have been practising how to exchange real-time battle data and suppress enemy forces in the shortest possible time over the last two weeks. The action has been taking place in the rugged 1.6 million ha terrain of the Barry M. Goldwater training area in Arizona, about 20 times the size of Singapore.

The war games also represent the final hurdle for Singapore's latest eye in the sky - Heron 1 - to be declared battle-ready.

Our eyes in the sky are no goody two-shoes despite being the new kids on the block at Exercise Forging Sabre 2015...
Posted by The Republic of Singapore Air Force on Thursday, December 10, 2015

Four of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which are making their debut in the war games, will have to scan over and beyond the horizon in reconnaissance missions to hunt down enemy targets and pinpoint them with laser beams.

Swooping in to destroy the targets will be 29 F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, Apache attack helicopters and Chinook heavy-lift helicopters from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) detachments at Arizona, Texas and Idaho.

They will be hammering the enemy with nearly 100 muni-tions, which include the Laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions smart bombs and anti-tank Hellfire missiles.

The integrated live-fire drill, the fifth in the Forging Sabre series since 2005, is the most complex and realistic yet, said exercise director Tommy Tan.

Men and machines are pitted against more sophisticated and unpredictable enemy "red forces". One of the mock war scenarios requires troops to spot and shoot all six "fleeting" targets, up from two in the 2013 edition, said Colonel Tan, commander of the RSAF's Air Combat Command.

"We are testing the whole loop, from fighting all the way in, dropping the bomb, seeing how the bomb drops... from there, when the guy comes back, he has to find a way out, to survive coming back."

Witnessing the final outcome will be Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who is arriving in Arizona from Washington, DC.

Heron 1 pilot Collin Tan said his team of 70 men has been fine-tuning skills such as perfecting maintenance checks and reconnaissance procedures in order to be operationalised next year.

Making a difference in the operations, said Major Tan, are the Air Imagery Intelligence Experts who scrutinise the data collected to identify the enemy.

The flight commander in 119 Squadron, said: "Image without analysis is not intelligence."

The coordinated thrusts in the exercise are a result of the Singapore Armed Forces' ongoing modernisation drive to integrate all its weapons, sensors and other systems into one network to multiply its firepower and give it a deadlier punch.

Senior Lieutenant Liew Boon Peng, the exercise air director, said: "We have expanded the scope (of warfare)... You are no longer tied to your own weapon systems to be precise (in firing), you can leverage on another platform to hit quickly and accurately."

When our aircrew are forced to eject over hostile territory, a Combat Search and Rescue mission is launched at the...
Posted by The Republic of Singapore Air Force on Wednesday, December 16, 2015

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