Five Republic of Singapore Air Force Boeing CH-47D Chinook helicopters have taken up residence at the Australian Army Aviation Training Centre at Oakey in southeast Queensland.
The Australian Defence Force announced their arrival on June 20, 2018, but Singapore’s MoD is yet to issue a formal statement.
An Australian Defence Force spokesperson said: “The Chinooks are located at Oakey in order to access the outstanding flying training environment on the Darling Downs. The basing of Republic of Singapore Air Force Chinooks in Australia is a demonstration of the deepening relationship between Australia and Singapore and provides potential future opportunities for further bilateral defence cooperation.”
The five Chinooks had earlier arrived at the Port of Brisbane by sea and were transported to Oakey by road. Once reassembled, they will be used to train Republic of Singapore Air Force helicopter crews alongside the Airbus Helicopters (Aerospatiale) AS332M/M1 Super Pumas, which have been based at Oakey since September 1998.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force helicopters are based in Australia under the Oakey Agreement, signed between the two countries in October 1996. The agreement initially provided scope for up to 12 Super Pumas to be based at Oakey, with an option to include Chinook helicopter training at a later date.
New facilities have been constructed at Oakey, and the existing facilities upgraded, to support Chinook training under an AUD 50 million public works programme.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force had previously conducted Chinook training in the United States, alongside the Texas Army National Guard, based at Grand Prairie.
Known as the Peace Prairie Detachment, the Republic of Singapore Air Force operated six CH-47Ds in the United States between 1996 and 2018 and five of these helicopters are now at Oakey. The fate of the sixth airframe remains unclear.
Singapore currently operates a total of 16 Chinooks, including 10 CH-47SD helicopters based at Sembawang and operating with the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s 127 Sqn. The country also ordered an unspecified number of CH-47F Chinooks in November 2016, for delivery in the 2020 timeframe. Nigel Pittaway