Paya Lebar Air Base
There is NO military "base" but rather a military "place" in Singapore. Paya Lebar is a Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) base and USAF/AMC beddown location run by the Republic of Singapore Air Force, where as nearby Singapore Changi Airport is a modern, civilian airfield. Paya Lebar Airfield features a 12,400 ft x 200 ft runway with East and West parallel taxiways. The runway orientation is identical to nearby parallel-runway Changi International Airport. Paya Lebar is located on the eastern half of Singapore, just west of Changi International Airport. Until the opening of Changi in 1981, it was the International airport for Singapore. 497th Operations office is located at Paya Lebar. Parking Space can be limited during USAF aircraft deployment or RSAF exercises.
Vice President Quayle and Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew signed a memorandum of understanding in Tokyo on 13 November 1990, permitting US use of facilities in Singapore. Singapore's Paya Lebar airfield is used for short-term rotations by USAF aircraft. The US is not constructing a base in Singapore; rather, US forces make use of existing Singaporean facilities at Paya Lebar [and Sembawang Port]. This is one form of access which represents a new approach to maintaining US presence in the region. This new approach will consist of a network of bilateral arrangements that facilitate training, exercises and interoperability which, in lieu of permanent bases, will permit the US to remain engaged and forward deployed in Southeast Asia.
Exercise COMMANDO SLING is an air exercise which began with an agreement between the United States and Singapore in 1990. When it began, it involved the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and U.S. Air Force (USAF) assets of Pacific Air Forces (PACAF). For the first time, COMMANDO SLING 98-4 also included the participation of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
All COMMANDO SLING exercises are conducted from Paya Lebar Air Base (PLAB), Singapore. They involve continuous and extensive coordination between Singaporean and U.S. participants. The USAF's 497th Combat Training Squadron (497 CTS), which is based in Singapore, provides the main coordination for U.S. participation in the exercise. Since its inception, 42 COMMANDO SLING exercises have generated over 6,000 aircraft sorties.
The 497th Combat Training Squadron 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 deployed 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.
Singapore Island is situated off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula from which it is separated by the narrow Johore Straits , crossed by a rail and road causeway. The island is 26 miles from the east to west coasts and 14 miles from north to south. The highest point is 581 feet above sea level and the island is situated 00 degrees north of the Equator. The time is 8 hours ahead of GMT or two hours later in the day than Diego Garcia is. The climate is hot and very humid year round. The temperature varies from an average high of 90 degrees Fahernheit to an average low of 65 degrees Fahrenheit. the average rainfall is 94 inches, which may fall in light showers, but more often comes in torrential downpours.
Buses are abundant, reliable and inexpensive. Fares range from $.40 to $.60 on non-air-conditioned buses and slightly higher on air-conditioned buses. Taxi's are relatively inexpensive but can be hard to get during rush hours and when it rains. Personnel arriving at Paya Lebar airport form Diego Garcia can telephone for taxi service in order to continue to the Changi International Airport or to hotels in the downtown area. Taxi Fare from Paya Lebar airport to the Orchard Street hotels is approximately S$15.00.
Selling chewing gum is illegal in Singapore and is punishable with a small fine. Canning punishments are reserved for violent crimes.
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