A blog on military and commercial aviation matters in the Asia-Pacific region

RAAF Hornets in Singapore for resurrected Exercise Churinga

September 30, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

One of eight RAAF 'classic' Hornets participating in Ex. Churinga 2017 returns to base after a sortie with RSAF F-15SGs in dreary weather. The ARDU markings on A21-32 indicate a previous life supporting flight tests.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) No. 75 Squadron is participating in Exercise Churinga 2017 a bilateral fighter exercise with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF). Eight F/A-18 'classic' Hornets have been deployed at Singapore's Paya Lebar Air Base from 16 September, fresh from the 77 Sqn-led Exercise Thai Boomerang in Korat Air Base, Thailand. One would expect that dissimilar air combat training and large-force employment for interoperability enhancements would be the usual themes of the exercise.

A notable point of the exercise was the resurrection of 'Churinga' as the exercise codename. It was first introduced in 1983 when the RAAF's continuous presence of Mirage IIIOs at Tengah Air Base was switched to peroidic training deployments at Paya Lebar. The label was subsequently applied to the RAAF's other fighter training deployments in that part of the region when bilateral air exercises with Malaysia were also code-named as such. The last of the 'Churinga' series of exercises was held in 2001, and the resurrection of air combat training deployments to Singapore this year is yet another key indicator that defence cooperation under the Australia-Singapore Comprehensive Strategic Partnership framework is in full swing (read more on the strategic defence partnership in my Australian Defence Magazine Nov 2016 article).

Exercise Churinga 2017 is also significant in that it has been 11 years since the RAAF has deployed a fighter detachment to Singapore; the RAAF last dispatched a similar number of F/A-18A/Bs to Paya Lebar to participate in the multilateral Five Power Defence Arrangement (FPDA) Exercise Bersama Padu 2006 in September that year.

South Korean F-15K conducts Taraus cruise missile drill

September 12, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

With explosive tensions mounting on the Korean peninsular, the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) has announced that it has conducted its first drill for the Taurus KEPD 350K air-launched cruice missile from an F-15K on 12 September. A press release by the ROKAF said that the missile flew some 400 kilometers and hit an intended target in coastal waters off Gunsan, North Jeolla Province.

Video footage released by the ROKAF indicated that while the missile is functional, stencils on it, as well as the lack of explosion (on impact or delayed) revealed that it was an experimental or test round. A statement from the ROKAF confirmed that for the safety of ships in the general area, no explosives were used.

The ROKAF is on course to deploy 260 Taurus cruise missiles purchased in two batches, the second of which for 90 was placed in late-2016. The KEPD 350K differs from the baseline model with the additon of a GPS receiver as well as greater resistance to spoofing and jamming. The purchase of the German-manufactured missiles largely stemmed from the US's unwilingness to export the AGM-158 JASSM missile to the country for fear of upsetting the strategic balance in the region.

In a hot war with North Korea, the Taurus KEPD 350K will be used to target infrastructure and support facilities for the nuclear and ballistic missile programs, key military facilities and the North Korean regime's command and control capabilities.

PICTURES: Indonesia and Singapore air forces' F-16s in joint formations

September 07, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

7 Sep 2017 - Not everyday that 20 F-16s from two countries get to formate together. Indonesia F-16A/C/Ds and Singapore F-16C/Ds fly the '50' formation during the RISING50 celebrations to mark 50 years of bilateral ties. © Roy Choo Indonesia and Singapore Air Forces' F-16s fly jointly in the '50' formation. © Roy Choo

As part of celebrations to mark 50 years of bilateral ties between Indonesia and Singapore dubbed "RISING50" the Indonesian Air Force (Tentara Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Darat TNI–AU) and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) flew in separate and joint formations over the Marina Bay area on 7 September. Witnessed by leaders and dignitaries from both countries, the F-16s flew in unilateral "Arrowhead" formations and jointly in a "50" formation. A "bomb-burst" manoeuvre by RSAF F-15SGs concluded the display.

The digit '5' is made up by the TNI-AU F-16s while the RSAF flew in the '0'. © Roy Choo

Like all relationships, the half century of relations had its ups and downs. There were episodes of great cooperation and assistance in the economic, social and defence realms but also periods of friction and tension between both countries. There being much fractional rivalry in Indonesian politics, and the small geographical size and vulnerability of Singapore often lead to each side pursuing different tangents that have adverse effects on relations. The Indonesia-Singapore relationship will only stay strong and continue to prosper in the next 50 years through cool-headed decision-making and the commitment to seek cooperation and mutual benefits by leaders on both sides of the Straits of Singapore.

7 Sep 2017 - RSAF 140 and 143 Squadron-marked F-16C/Ds in the 'Arrowhead' formation. © Roy Choo RSAF F-16s from 140 and 143 Squadrons in the 'Arrowhead' formation, led by the F-16D flown by the Commanding Officer of 140 Squadron and the Chief of Air Force in the back-seat. © Roy Choo

The TNI-AU 'Arrowhead' is represented by F-16A/C/Ds from Skadron Udara 3 & 16 based out from Iswahyudi and Roesmin Nurjadin Air Bases. © Roy Choo The TNI-AU is represented by F-16A/C/Ds from Skadron Udara 3 and 16 based out from Iswahyudi and Roesmin Nurjadin Air Bases. © Roy Choo

PICTURES: Indonesian Apache breaks cover

May 19, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

The first Indonesia Army (Tentara Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Darat TNI–AD) AH-64E Apache Guardian has broken cover at what is believed to be the Boeing production line at Mesa, Arizona during flight tests. Painted in a refreshing two-tone green-brown scheme, the Apache is part of a foreign military sales (FMS) contract of eight aircraft that also comprises AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, Longbow fire control radars and a training and crew support package awarded to Boeing by the US government in January 2015. The Indonesian military is expected to publicly unveil the attack helicopter at a parade on 5 October 2017 to mark the 72th anniversary of the armed forces.

Photos: Breitling DC-3 on World Tour Escorted by FCK-1 Ching-Kuo

April 25, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

The Breitling Douglas DC-3 HB-IRJ, currently in the midst of its round-the-world tour, was given a rousing welcome into Taiwan airspace on 25 April when it was intercepted and escorted by three Republic of China Air Force FCK-1 Ching-Kuo fighters off the Penghu Islands. One of the FCK-1s, all of which hail from the 443rd Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW) based in Tainan, acted as the photo-ship for the mission. We hope the FCK-1s didn't have a hard time trying to keep pace with the slow lumbering DC-3!

Photos by ROCAF