TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Airmen from the Republic of Singapore air force participated in a weapons exercise Nov. 7 through 18.
The RSAF squadrons with the 425th Fighter Squadron from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, and the 428th Fighter Squadron from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, participated in the Weapons Systems Evaluation Program held here by the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group.
The purpose of the WSEP is to evaluate operational Department of Defense and allied service members, fighters, missiles and gunnery in realistic air combat scenarios.
“The [Republic of] Singapore air force was here to participate in live-fire exercises,” said Staff Sgt. Corey Hinton, 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron aircraft armament systems specialist. “They come almost every year to test their weapons systems and evaluate their effectiveness with them.”
A normal WSEP usually consists of two or three squadrons, with no more than 24 aircraft on the ramp for two weeks. The Singaporean squadrons flew F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons for the exercise.
The weapon systems evaluation allows pilots to experience what they could see in combat. During regular pilot training, pilots go through all the steps to fire a missile except actually firing one, so there is no way to clearly validate whether they’re ready for real combat. The WSEP allows the pilot to actually fire a missile and use advanced instruments to determine how accurate they would be in a combat
As with any large exercise, there are always challenges to be overcome.
“The hardest part of any WSEP is the arrival and departure. Moving hundreds of people and coordinating equipment transport can be difficult,” Hinton said.
The Singapore pilots and maintainers were supported by U.S. Airmen from Luke AFB and Mountain Home AFB and helped maintain the training weapons and chaff used for each session of the WSEP.
Airmen from the 53rd WEG also coordinated with the Singaporean airmen to ensure they arrived safely and were ready to complete their mission on time each day.
“We’re here to support the Singapore units by making sure their munitions requirements are met before each takeoff,” said Airman 1st Class Mason Heritz, a 425th Aircraft Maintenance Unit munitions systems specialist. “They come here once a year for the Combat Archer exercise, and we’re usually attached to ensure everything runs smoothly. All the Singapore troops are great to work with, they make our job extremely easy. They’re all really awesome people.”
Hinton was the lead coordinator for the Singaporean airmen and spoke about his experience working with them.
“There are always barriers that come with international cooperation, but at the end of the day we have a common goal,” Hinton said. “Anytime we as nations can come together, it brings us closer together as people.”