Singapore to base F-15SGs in New Zealand?

An RSAF F-15SG departs Darwin during Pitch Black 2016. (Defence)

Republic of Singapore Air Force F-15SG fighters could be based in New Zealand “long-term” for training, NZ Defence Minister Mark Mitchell has announced.

Singapore has asked the New Zealand Government “to consider accommodating F-15SG fighter jet training at Ohakea long-term”, a statement released by Minister Mitchell on Wednesday reads.

“At the moment both countries are carrying out a range of studies to enable everyone to make an informed decision on a possible proposal,” Mitchell said in the statement.

“But we have similar values and it could be a good fit.”

And ahead of a possible basing of F-15s at Ohakea, the RSAF is sending six F-16D+ fighters to the former home of RNZAF fast jet operations for a four-week long training deployment from August 30 to September 25.

While based at Ohakea, near Palmerston North on New Zealand’s North Island, the F-16s will carry out training exercises across New Zealand, Mitchell said, including day and night operations and using New Zealand weapons ranges.

“Singapore is one of our closest defence partners. All three services of the New Zealand Defence Force regularly train and exercise with their Singaporean counterparts, and it will be a pleasure to welcome this group to New Zealand,” Mitchell said.

“Our two countries have an active agreement to explore opportunities for further military co-operation and training and this exercise aligns perfectly with that.”

The F-16Ds will be supported by 110 personnel.

“This exercise is timely, in that it will provide valuable data for the process and how basing F-15s at Ohakea might work for our Air Force,” Mitchell said.

Singapore has South-East Asia’s most advanced air force, but the tiny island nation lacks airspace and ranges for training, and consequently already bases fighter and trainer aircraft permanently in the US (F-15SGs at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho and F-16C/Ds at Luke AFB, Nevada), France (M-346 jet trainers at Cazaux) and Australia (PC-21 turboprop trainers at RAAF Base Pearce). It also bases Chinook and Apache helicopters in the US and Cougar helicopters at Oakey, Queensland.

Singaporean F-15s and F-16s are also regular participants in Australia’s biennial Pitch Black exercise series, and for the first time in April this year the RSAF deployed F-15SGs to Andersen Air Base, Guam, for exercises with the US Air Force.

Should the F-15SGs be based at Ohakea they will represent the first permanent basing of fast jets in New Zealand since the retirement of the RNZAF’s A-4K Skyhawks in 2001.

Comments

  1. Mick181 says

    Can only see huge positives for Singapore, NZ and even Australia in this. Gives the RSAF room to train, brings Millions of Dollars into the local economy, only a couple of hours accross the ditch to exercise more often with the ADF.

  2. Martin Burr says

    I think there is a typo in the last sentence. It appears that Osaka should actually be Ohakea

  3. John N says

    This will be good for Singapore, NZ, Australia and the region too, hope it goes ahead.

    If it does, wonder how long it will take the New Zealanders sneak out in the middle of the night and start painting little black Kiwi’s on the side of the RSAF aircraft!!!

    Instant NZ air combat force!!!!

    Cheers,

    John N

  4. Gary says

    Tim – why? Darwin is in the cyclone belt, an obvious location would be Tindal which is far enough south to escape all but the most severe systems. Or is it because you dislike the US? With or without the US footprint in Darwin, we as a rich western nation, will always incur the wrath of those North of us.

  5. Raymond says

    If only, if only… F-16s with RNZAF Kiwis on the side could have been…

    Amazing how Singapore, population approx. 5.8m, has a significantly large and capable air combat fleet, while NZ, with only one million less at a population of approx. 4.8m, has exactly zero. Both are advanced, first-world countries.

  6. Andrew McG says

    I live under the flight path for the Kaipara Air Weapons Range. We haven’t had anything except the Orions dropping weapons since the disbandment of the Skyhawks. Can’t wait to see these guys buzzing us, especially if they do night work. Hard to beat Skyhawks firing Zuni rockets at night though! Roll on 30 August

  7. Mick181 says

    Raymond New Zealand wasn’t invaded and occupied by a hostile Military for 3 & 1/2 years. Totally diferent Strategic situation. If as some are predicting a major War was to break out in the South China Sea, Singapore would be vital to both sides, seize Singapore and you could control all of South East Asia and the South China sea.

  8. Harry says

    Correct me if I am wrong here but I thought Australia already hosted RSAF F-15s!? I seem to remember it from many years ago… Or, has that arrangement somehow concluded?

  9. says

    Hopefully this is the first step for NZ to re establish a fast jet capability.With the US looking to retire some of their F-15s, turn them into strike eagles and Bobs your uncle.NZ could and does have a budget that could support this.

  10. Mick181 says

    Harry not full time we haven’t, they visit our shores occasionally but haven’t been based here full time.

  11. Raymond says

    Yes Mick181, I am aware of the geographic and strategic differences, however nothing changes the fact that NZ should have a proportionally strong NZDF, and this includes an air combat element.

    If NZ spent a reasonable amount of GDP on defence then they COULD afford fast jets. The F-16 deal was too good and still wasn’t good enough!

    NZ has been heavily involved in conflict (think ANZAC for starters) throughout history and geography is no excuse. Many other countries, including Australia, are increasing defence capability while it seems that NZ is trying to ‘hide’ in their corner of the world and shirk a reasonable level of responsibility as far as maintaining an effective level of deterrence and significant abiity for contribution to allied operations. If the P-8 isn’t at least selected by NZ then I call cop-out big-time.

  12. Derrick says

    @Paul, won’t happen, That ship has sailed when NZ got rid of their strike wing, you have to look at the whole cost of buying an airframe. Parts, maintenance, labour, engines, upgrades etc….. Also training.
    Sorry to burst your bubble…

  13. Philip says

    I think this is a great opportunity for Singapore, New Zealand particularly but also Australia.

    Singapore’s military air arm is a major deterrent for its immediate and regional neighbours, and is considered by some as both a defensive force but also a retaliatory strike force – ie beware if there was ever a first strike on Singapore, as they may strike back from another place outside of Singapore.

    Consequently Singapore is quite protective in confirming its air assets, but some more educated people have it at quite a strength:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equipment_of_the_Republic_of_Singapore_Air_Force

    Given Singapore’s small land footprint is it no surprise that they would want post their air assets around the world with aligned countries to facilitate training and inter-operability. I’m sure any fast jet incursion (training or otherwise) across a neightbouring border would result in significant political blow-back for obvious reasons.

    Having a squadron of F15SGs (or F16s) in New Zealand therefore makes great sense to me – its relative size helps orientate pilots and aircrew who would be called on to defend Singapore (albeit NZ is a far more undulating), but it means a quicker response time if they need to be recalled either to Singapore (or possibly Base Tindal in NT on standby) rather than from the US, during any heightened preparedness.

    As for the opportunities for them to participate in joint training and operations with NZ and/or AU forces – that is the big bonus.

    Should this be formally approved and implemented, it would be another great example of the ever improving synergies between SG, AU and NZ across many spectra, but particularly in the 3 country’s common defence.

    Cheers,

  14. says

    Perfectly said there Raymond and agree200%. Derrick, please read Raymond’s post. They would have plenty of money to start 2 sqns of fast jets, regardless of the cost.By the way they could afford 1 to buy second hand refurbished and upgraded 15s for a song. 2 Buy Brand new F-16s Blk 40s. You didn’t burst my bubble there buddy.

  15. ngatimozart says

    Gidday John,

    If they are tagged with Kiwis it will probably happen towards the end of the exercise. I do hope that they do get tagged because it is a tradition to be kept up. I do believe that LBJ’s Air Force 1 flew out of Ohakea after his 1960’s visit with a Kiwi high up on the fin.

    As much as it would be great to reconstitute the ACF, unfortunately there is no political will to do so. The pollies just don’t want to spend the money.

  16. Bill says

    Here’s hoping one day, some time soon, we see the rebirth of the RNZAF Strike Wing

    Would put the “Force” back into the Royal New Zealand Air Force

    Government is not short of money

  17. gaza g says

    How about this, ( friendly countries ) share their resources .
    ie NZ Transport and SAR aircraft , Aust helicopters , Singapore fighter planes ,
    Or something like that.
    Same model could be managed with the Navy……… submarines, frigates ect

  18. Adrian P says

    gaza g is close to the answer.

    That is how NATO works, the UK were the minesweeper force and expertise for the Western Europe approaches.

    PS
    Regarding NZ, amazing how much money you can save by having an independent foreign policy.

  19. AlanH says

    I agree with Paul. Enzed could really get ahead with a couple squadrons of F-15 Strike Eagles and new build F-16s. I’ve always wondered why they didn’t buy the F-5 when it was going for a song back in the day, and now the F-16 is in that category, though some would have it that the F-35 and F-22 have made them obsolete overnight. But F-15/16s would be better than what they have now … zilch! Come on Enzed, even Switzerland, traditionally neutral and non-confrontational, have fast jets in their Air Force.

    Gaza … you might just be onto something there!

  20. says

    gaza g,why? All NZ has to do is get a fast jet force back into their Air Force. We and all the other nations spend their share so why not NZ? It’s actually a slap in the face to all the fine airmen and women who used to fly with Air Force.

  21. Des says

    @ Harry and Mick 181. Back in the 80’s we had Singaporean Hawker Hunters based in Williamtown for quite some time. The planes stayed in Oz but the crews did (something like) 3 months deployments. Eventually they had to move from Willytown when the Hornet buildup began.

  22. Philip says

    If NZ really wanted to get back into fast jets, what better way than to lease or buy a squadron of F18A from Australia and base the crew initially in Base Amberley (taking a leaf out of how Singapore does it)?

    Commonality
    Existing facilities
    Assisting regional interoperability
    Allows training to be built up in NZ to support them including weapons procurement.

    This could be timed when the first 8 F35s arrive into AU as well, to keep the Hornets active.

  23. Gary says

    Philip – Hardlt think basing F/A-18As at RAAF Amberley would achieve any sort of commonality with the Supers. The F/A-18Fs are in a different league to the classics.

  24. says

    If my memory is correct the then PM told the public we could not afford the $80 odd mil per year to run the A4’s but I believe the Aussies were paying something like $120 mil for one of our Sqd ‘super’ to be over there to tow targets for thier Navy to shoot at. If the RSAF are to come down here I say bring it on.
    We need to re-establish a ‘Strike Wing’s even though it will cost Zillions.

  25. John N says

    Air Combat Force for NZ? Sorry not going to happen.

    As ngatimozart accurately stated, there simply isn’t the political will to do so.

    Here in Oz, despite the politicians rarely agreeing on anything, Defence Policy and Defence Spending is pretty much a bipartisan approach, when was the last time that either of the two main parties ever cancelled or changed a decision by the other side?

    In Canada, it’s the complete opposite, Defence is a big political football, look at the mess they’ve got themselves into about the Classic Hornet replacement, it just goes on and on and is never ending.

    For NZ, it’s certainly no where near as bad as Canada, but there isn’t a clear bipartisan approach either, the Conservative side of NZ politics would probably be more likely to re-establish an Air Combat Force, but again, unless that decision was supported by the Left, it’s just not going to happen.

    It is good to see more NZ Defence dollars being allocated and we will see the replacement of their maritime and transport aircraft fleets in the not too distant future, but beyond that? Can’t see an ACF being re-established.

    Anyway, hopefully we will see Singapore’s F-15s based there, good for them, NZ, Australia and the region too.

    Cheers,

    John N

  26. Raymond says

    John N, I really respect your opinion and contributions, however I have to say, never say never.

    Things sometimes can change quickly. I’ve said this before, but who knows, perhaps some of the best examples of RAAF classic Hornets or, further down the track, even Supers may find their way into RNZAF hands. It’s happened before with Skyhawks and Super Seasprites.

  27. says

    Raymond,if the classics or supers do find their way to NZ ,that will have to be ticked off by the US. But if it is, this would be a win win for everyone.

  28. Alan W says

    This is a good strategic move I am sure. New Zealand is an ideal standoff aircraft carrier with adjacent friendly territory.

  29. John N says

    Hi Raymond,

    Mate, yes of course you can never say never (never is a very long time!).

    But I honestly can’t see it happening for NZ, there just isn’t the political will to do so, and apart from the additional funding required too.

    There would have to be a major event in our near region and possibly a direct threat to NZ for that to happen, and again I can’t see that happening anytime soon.

    In regard to equipment from Australia, yes we did sell them the surplus A-4G’s, but they had an Air Combat Force in existence at that time, and in regard to the Seasprites, they are not exactly fast jets are they?

    I’d love to be proved wrong and see NZ with fast jets again, but I’m not going to hold my breath on that one happening!

    Cheers,

    John N

  30. says

    John N,if there was a direct threat or a major event, don’t you think it would be too late? It takes quite a while to establish a fast jet force. To be technical as well, there is a direct threat with China in the South China Sea. But you are right, I’m not holding my breath either.

  31. John N says

    Paul,

    Agree, yes too late is too late, but realistically who is going to ‘directly’ threaten NZ? Who?

    Geographically, they sit at the bottom of the world in our region, there is this huge massive chunk of land between them and Asia, guess what that is? Yes us, Australia!

    Any ‘direct’ threat to NZ is going to have to come through Australia first, or bypass us, and why would any nation with any significant military power bypass Australia to get to NZ first? who?

    This is not to say that NZ can’t and won’t be a good partner, a good coalition partner, but the chances of NZ being under some sort of ‘direct’ threat is almost zero.

    If you could swap NZ with Singapore, then guess what? You would probably find that NZ has the larger more capable defence force, including fast jets, and Singapore sitting back because we sit between them and the rest of the world.

    Every nation has its own perspective of the world, but that perspective is also based on their geographical location and potential threats too.

    Cheers,

    John N

  32. says

    John N, of course they will have to come through Australia first.But if Australia is on the list they will take NZ as well.My guess would be China.

  33. PAUL says

    The NZDF cant afford to operate & maintain twin engine fighter aircraft no matter how cheap, so no F15 or even F18’s, which is why the RNZAF purchased the A4 over the F4, as the A4 could truck a similar load of bombs, at a similar speed further than an F4, The USMC handed back there A7’s & wanted their old A4’s returned as they worked so good. Back in the 80’s the F20 Tigershark was being offered for $10M US powered by an uprated F18 engine at 18000lbs of thrust, which was very capable but could’nt carry as much as an F16 which is why NZ wanted F16’s. Today there is a similar aircraft to the F20 with the Saab Gripen & Gripen NG which is powered by a single Super Hornet engine of 22000lbs thrust. This a very capable aircraft which can carry far more than the old F20 & would be cheaper to operate than an updated F16, Latest versions of both are somewhat a poor mans JSF. However have to agree with others if NZ was located where Singapore is we would have the F35 in line with the RAAF. Should an urgent situation arise the US have many F16’s sitting at AMARC that can quickly be brought back to service, which could be sold to allies, they can even bring back the F14 Super Tomcat if they needed to for the US Navy. Will be very interesting who will buy the RAAF’s legacy Hornets? maybe some will end up also at AMARC? Lets hope they don’t get buried like the F111’s….

  34. Rocket says

    They are operating the F-15 which was the ONLY viable currently available replacement for the F-111C/G. With a combat radius of 1000nm it far outstrips the anemic and useless F-18F which we wasted money on.

  35. says

    Rocket, I wouldn’t say the Rhino is anemic. It’s radar is the best in the world(only the F-35s is better) and its range of weapons and commonality with the classics and talks better with the classics. That is why the RAAF chose it because buying a totally different platform is to costly.. The government was planning to Aquire the Growler as well. Having the F-35 come in will work better with the Growlers as well. Sounds totally logic to me.