The objectives of the Commando Sling exercise are to fulfill a US commitment for continuous presence in Singapore, to test the long-range mobilization ability of deploying US forces, and to maximize dissimilar air combat training between US Air Force F-16s and Singapore air force F-16 and F-5 aircraft. Exercise COMMANDO SLING is an air exercise which began with an agreement between the United States and Singapore in 1990.
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.
In 1995 there were six major USAF exercises with the Singapore Air Force, code named Commando Sling. Each exercise lasted for one month, with USAF units coming from bases in Japan (including Kadena AB in Okinawa), Alaska, and Arizona. Reserve and Guard units also participated on occasion.
When COMMANDO SLING 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).
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.
Successful exercises such as COMMANDO SLING 98-4 are the result of excellent working relations and superb coordination during the operational planning conferences. In the case of COMMANDO SLING 98-4, the potential for expanding the exercise was first identified during a meeting in December 1997 in Singapore. RAAF F/A-18s were scheduled to participate with the RSAF in Singapore during a Five Power Defence Arrangement (FPDA) exercise at approximately the same time as a COMMANDO SLING exercise was to begin with the deployment of six Louisiana Air National Guard F-15s to Singapore. From that point, it was a relatively simple matter to de-conflict existing schedules and develop a plan to execute an exercise of this magnitude and complexity.
RSAF assets participating in COMMANDO SLING 98-4 included F-16 Fighting Falcons, upgraded F-5 Tigers, and A4-SU Skyhawks. Flying operations commenced on 5 May 1998, with the initial sorties dedicated to orientation-type missions pitting one aircraft versus one aircraft in basic fighter maneuvers. Following these "warm up" sorties, the exercise quickly progressed to more involved scenarios with the last flying days including mission-oriented training packages of four versus six aircraft. These packages were the highlights of the training scenarios, with multiple aircraft performing air defense and sweep roles, and others simulating attacks on Royal Australian Naval vessels positioned under the training airspace.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|