MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho --
Fulfilling an agreement struck more than two years ago, the first contingent of personnel and their families from the Republic of Singapore air force arrived here late last month to begin the process of establishing a long-standing presence here.
The first RSAF military personnel, responsible for general set up operations, arrived with their families Sept. 2 and 22 while the first F-15SG aircraft are scheduled to arrive in April 2009.
A new squadron will be activated at Mountain Home Air Force Base under the flag of the 428th Fighter Squadron as the new RSAF flying, training unit responsible for qualifying all Singaporean F-15SG crews. These crews stand to benefit from the superb Mountain Home Range Complex airspace and the close training opportunities provided by the 366th Fighter Wing for the next five to 20 years, ultimately bringing a total of 10 F-15SG aircraft to the base. Accompanying the aircraft will be approximately 179 RSAF active duty personnel and 128 support personnel with their families. The F-15SG is an advanced version of the F-15E Strike Eagle currently flown at Mountain Home AFB.
"Mountain Home AFB was proposed as one of the locations to provide initial and continuation training for Singapore due to our world class range complex, excellent year-round weather for flying, existing first rate support facilities and highly trained personnel," said Lt. Col. Andrew Kerkman, 366th Fighter Wing chief of assessments. "Bottom line: The Gunfighter team won the opportunity to host the first F-15 extended continental U.S. Singaporean squadron."
"Our goal as Gunfighters is to welcome our new international friends into the 366th FW family with open arms, and support them in getting their operation up and running as quickly and as smoothly as possible," said Col. James McGovern, 366th Operations Group commander. "This includes integrating their families - who have travelled thousands of miles to a new country - into our community and setting up the squadron's operational supply lines so we can start training on time next spring. We're also very excited in the Operations Group to add the 428th Buccaneers - a squadron with an impressive history in combat and peacetime - to our number."
Gunfighters will be expected to render the proper customs and courtesies to members of the RSAF including saluting RSAF officers. The officer ranks are similar to U.S. Air Force ranks with officers and warrant officers wearing shoulder ranks and enlisted forces displaying ranks on their sleeves.
The Republic of Singapore sits between Malaysia and Indonesia in South East Asia. With a population of more than 4.6 million, the leading ethnic groups include Chinese, composing 76.8 percent of the population; Malay, 13.9 percent; and Indian at 7.9 percent. Religions include Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikh, Taoism and Confucianism, and the four official languages are Chinese, Malay, Tamil and English.
Modern Singapore was founded in 1819 as a trading station, became a British colony in August 1824 and fell under the rule of Japan during WWII in 1942. Singapore gained its independence from Japan in 1945 and on Aug. 9, 1965, became the Republic of Singapore after its separation from Malaysia. Today, it is the busiest port in the world with over 600 shipping lines.
The Singapore Air Defence Command was founded in 1968 and re-christened the Republic of Singapore air force in 1975.
Singapore's flag is composed of two horizontal sections, red on top and white on bottom. A white crescent moon sits in the upper left-hand corner with five stars forming a circle to its right. Red symbolizes universal brotherhood and equality of man, white signifies pervading and everlasting purity and virtue, the moon represents a young nation on the ascendant and the five stars stand for democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.
For more information regarding the RSAF, visit http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/mindef_websites/atozlistings/air_force/index.html