New RSAF training jet declared operationally ready

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has declared its newest training jets operationally ready, raising the bar for rookie fighter pilots.

The 12 Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master jet trainers - first delivered and deployed for training in 2012 - were officially inaugurated yesterday. The Italian-made jets replace the ageing Singapore- modified TA-4SU planes which trainees from the RSAF's 150 Squadron, based in south-west France, had been using.

Declaring them operationally ready at Cazaux Airbase, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the M-346 will improve the realism and quality of training and help fighter crew "to operate current and future fighter platforms".

"It allows our trainee pilots to be able to be exposed to air combat environments within the cockpit - they can be simulated, as in handling electronic warfare systems, multi-mode radar and Beyond Visual Range missiles, early in their training."

Currently, only the RSAF and the Israeli air force fly the M-346 jets. They are part of the RSAF's push to modernise its fleet. Its pilots hone skills in training jets before flying more powerful warplanes like F-15s. The RSAF is deciding whether to buy the next-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Dr Ng thanked the French for hosting the RSAF since 1998. He earlier met his French counterpart, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, and visited the French Analysis Centre for Defensive Cyber Operations.

This article was first published on Sep 4, 2014.
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