497th Combat Training Squadron [497th CTS]
The 497th Combat Training Squadron is located at Paya Lebar AB, Singapore, as a result of an agreement signed in November 1990 between the Government of the United States and the Government of Singapore. This agreement allows for the periodic deployments of US fighter aircraft (Exercise: COMMANDO SLING) and the permanent presence of US forces. USAF personnel began arriving in Singapore in January 1991 and grew to full strength by June of the same year.
The 497th CTS comprises the basic functional elements of a small-scale USAF fighter wing - fighter operations, flightline logistics, community and mission support, and medical services. With a permanently assigned staff of 37 personnel, the 497th CTS represents the entire USAF presence in Singapore. However, six times a year for up to four weeks the squadron "grows" to between 120 and 190 in strength, with the deployment of 6 to 12 F-15 and/or F-16 aircraft and the associated 75 to 150 support personnel. When so configured, the 497 CTS "presence" is transformed into an operational role, to conduct an intense schedule of air-to-air combat training with the RSAF
The 497th CTS' mission is to support almost continuous TDY rotations of U.S. fighter aircraft into Singapore as a direct result of an agreement signed in November of 1990 between the US government and the Government of Singapore. The aircraft portion of the operations is located at Paya Lebar Air Base (PLAB), a Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) base. The squadron also provides support to all US military, family members, and US government civilians in housing, MWR, legal, and medical under the terms of the 1990 Memorandum of Understanding. The 497th CTS is responsible for supporting the installation and its daily operations.
The 497 CTS also supports USAF fighter rotations to Southwest Asia and several other regional exercises such as COPE TAUFAN, COPE TIGER, and COPE WEST. An example of the 497th CTS's "expanding capability" occurred in May 1998 during COMMANDO SLING 98-4 when they also supported the ordered departure of U.S. personnel from Indonesia. Paya Lebar Air Base ramp at that time had 28 USAF F-15s, four USAF C-130s, four USAF KC-135s, one C-141, one C-17, plus all the permanently based RSAF aircraft and aircraft from other nations. All were supported by 497 CTS and RSAF personnel. Additionally, COMMANDO SLING 98-4 was the first time the normally bilateral exercise was expanded to include the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F/A-18 Hornets.
Due to the restructuring of the command following the closure of Clark Air Base, the 497th's designation changed to the 497th Fighter Training Squadron. The 497th has a rich combat history since its conception in January of 1942 as the 302nd Bombardment Squadron (light). The name changed to the 497th Fighter Bomber Squadron in 1943 and has since gone through many mission changes. The unit first moved to PACAF in December 1965 as part of the 8th TFW based in Ubon, Thailand and for the next 8 years flew combat sorties throughout Southeast Asia. The 497th was the pioneer unit in flying night missions and developed the tactics used during "Night Owl" interdiction missions. The unit deactivated in 1974 when the 8th TFW moved to Kunsan AB, ROK only to be reactivated four years later at Taegu AB, ROK where the unit stayed until its deactivation and mothballing in 1988.
The 497th Fighter Training Squadron was once again reactivated on 31 October 1991 and was redesignated as the 497th Combat Training Squadron on 1 August 1994. The unit has two main work areas in Singapore. Aircraft operations and maintenance support functions are conducted at Paya Lebar Air Base (PLAB), while typical base support functions are carried out at the squadron headquarters located in Sembawang. The headquarters staff support offices are located in the headquarters building at the Port of Singapore Authority Sembawang Terminal.
Both the Paya Lebar Air Base and Sembawang facilities were renovated to support the 497th CTS' mission. These two areas are about a 30 minute drive apart. The staff support section facility at PSA Sembawang Terminal was renovated in April 1992 and is collocated with several US Navy activities. The headquarters building is located within a 15 minute walk of the housing area. The facilities at PLAB underwent renovation and were ready for our use in early March 1991. Singapore also hosts other foreign military units. New Zealand and Australian families are here as part of the New Zealand Defense Support Unit, along with some British Naval personnel. They share the 497th's housing area as well as work near it.
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