RAAF Hornets in Singapore for resurrected Exercise Churinga
September 30, 2017 • 2 Comments
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.
This will be the very last time to watch RAAF F-18 in Singapore as they will be going to the CAF service.
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