More Singapore Chinooks Go to Australia as Training Expands

 - August 24, 2020, 5:28 AM
Wearing a temporary U.S. civil registration, Singapore’s first CH-47F undergoes tests in the United States. [Photo: Vincent Games]

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) is reportedly deploying more Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters to its detachment at the Army Aviation Training Centre in Oakey, Australia. The force increase is confirmed by the Australian Department of Defence, according to Australian Defence Magazine. The report also suggests that 10 of the RSAF’s 16 new CH-47Fs will be deployed there.

The RSAF’s first CH-47F was photographed conducting flight tests in the U.S. in late July. Deliveries of the Chinooks, and of the new Airbus H225Ms also on order, were delayed from late 2020 to early 2021 due to Covid-19 related issues.

Currently, there are five CH-47Ds at Oakey, to where they were re-deployed in 2018 after the RSAF stood down its Peace Prairie training detachment in the U.S. The Chinooks replaced AS332M/M1 Super Pumas that had been based at Oakey since 1998.

The Chinook fleet will support the Singapore Armed Forces’ land training at Shoalwater Bay Training Area and a newly expanded area that will include Greenvale Training Area. The combined space can support army training at brigade level with five times more vehicles. The Chinooks will be able to conduct more complex air-land integration operations such as underslung load operations, troop insertion, and search and rescue missions over a larger theater. The combined area will be fully operational by 2028.

Basing more Chinooks in Australia also permits the RSAF to cost-effectively deploy helicopters to Queensland during the annual Exercise Wallaby. Boeing AH-64D Apaches and, more recently, Super Pumas are airlifted to the exercise by chartered Antonov An-124 flights.