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NEWS | March 6, 2024

USAF F-35s integrate with Singapore forces

By Tech. Sgt. Eric Summers Jr., Pacific Air Forces

U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning IIs participated in bilateral training with Republic of Singapore Air Force at Paya Lebar Air Base, Singapore for the first time March 4 – 7.

The F-35s from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, and RSAF F-15SGs and F-16C/D+ Fighting Falcons conducted various training scenarios to enhance trust and increase interoperability between the forces.

“We are working with them, seeing how they fly and operate, and then how we can work together,” said Capt. Nicholas Villanueva, 356th Fighter Squadron pilot. “It's actually a pretty easy transition to combine how they do things and how we do things, and working together to increase our interoperability.”

The training provided an opportunity to practice integrating the two air forces in order to enhance lethality, capabilities and competitiveness. While the components of the training are not new, participants added an element to make it original.

“We've been doing some [basic fighter manuevers] with them, as well as working with their tankers to get gas and doing a full integration with them,” said Lt. Col. Erik Gonsalves, 356th Fighter Squadron director of operations and F-35 pilot. “We’re doing our standard tactics, techniques and procedures that we would use to fight BFM here with the RSAF. What's new for us is that this is the first time the 356th Fighter Squadron has conducted day-to-day operations at Paya Lebar, flying with the RSAF out to the [RSAF] airspace.”

Events like this develop ready and capable combat forces that serve as a deterrent to aggressors by emphasizing resolve to work together and promote regional stability.

“The F-16 is a really good platform especially when they're flown by such talented pilots that the RSAF has,” Gonsalves said. “So, it's been unique to show them some of the differences in terms of how the F-16 fights BFM versus the F-35. But then, in terms of the actual platform itself, it's been good to have that crosstalk."

Villanueva said that this opportunity has allowed him to get to know the RSAF pilots he is flying with both inside and outside of the jet.

“These are the guys who shook our hands. Going up there and knowing when I look at the jet next to me, I know that guy, I’ve talked to him and know how they operate, and know that they're the professionals that they are,” Villanueva continued. “Our partnership activities enhance trust and increase global stability, security, and prosperity.”




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