While speaking at the parliamentary debate speech today (2 March), Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen announced that the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) would increase the scale and complexity of some of its overseas training.
This would include new combined training areas that would house next-generation facilities like combined arms air-land ranges and urban operations as well as live firing facilities, which allows the SAF to conduct mass scale, air-land live firing across its services.
According to the Minister, “For conventional operations, the SAF aims to have the best training facilities globally,” adding that the training facility in Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) in Australia, is set to be ready for use in 2024.
The Defence Minister explained that this will be combined with the new Greenvale Training Area, which would be completed in 2028. Together, the new training area would be 10 times the size of Singapore. The facilities therein would be used train approximately 14,000 soldiers and 2,400 vehicles over 18 weeks in a year.
“In essence, when completed, we can conduct complex training on a much larger scale, that only few militaries are able to, elsewhere,” Dr Ng said.
Dr Ng also explained that there was a temporary hold on the construction activity at SWBTA due to the bush fires that raged Australia this year. “So, we are watching it very careful and if we have to make adjustments, we’ll have to,” he said.
Dr Ng had also revealed that there would be a training detachment facility in Guam by 2029. The Minister elaborated that Singapore would deploy its F-15SGs, F-16s and supporting assets in an airspace more than 80 times the size of Singapore, allowing larger scale and more complex live firing training.
Earlier today, the Defense Minister shared a tweet on Singapore’s purchase of four F-35B fighter jets, with an option to buy eight more, for training and in-depth evaluation.
.@TheRSAF is maintaining its deterrent edge with acquisition of the 5th-gen F-35B, with short take-off/vertical landing (STOVL), and full suite of sensors and fighting capabilities. MINDEF is acquiring four F-35s, with an option to purchase eight more. #SGBudget2020 pic.twitter.com/HVN3U7PbyJ
— Ng Eng Hen (@Ng_Eng_Hen) March 2, 2020
“The F-35B performed in the recent Singapore Airshow and its ability to swivel 360 degrees was simply, as some people said, awesome,” he said. “But it can have a full suite of sensors and fighting capabilities.”
The Minister said that Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) is in the final stages of the purchase after getting the green light from the US government and Congress, adding that he hopes to take delivery of the jets around 2026.