The United States Air Force (USAF) will be studying the potential environmental impact of infrastructure upgrades needed to host a detachment of Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) F-15SGs in Guam for the long term.
These include the construction of airfield pavements and an aircraft hangar at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, along with maintenance and utilities buildings, fuel systems, fencing and utilities, roads and parking, stormwater management infrastructure, and earth-covered ammunition storage magazines.
Base authorities issued a notice on Dec 13 stating their intent to prepare an environmental impact statement for these upgrades.
Singapore’s Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and the US Department of Defence (DOD) had in 2019 signed an agreement on the establishment of an RSAF fighter training detachment at Andersen Air Force Base. The detachment in Guam is expected to be established around 2029.
The proposed upgrades are expected to take place over three to seven years and affect some 84.6ha of land — about the size of Clementi Forest — by the north-west corner of the sprawling base in Guam. The island is part of the Northern Mariana chain of islands in the central Pacific and is an unincorporated territory of the US.
Responding to queries by The Straits Times, Mindef said: “The establishment of any long-term overseas detachment requires careful and in-depth feasibility studies from all involved parties. The Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement is part of this process, which includes environmental impact studies, and studies that evaluate factors such as suitability of the location and training area, infrastructure and logistic support.”
The ministry added that it would continue to work closely with the DOD and relevant agencies to ensure that the RSAF’s requirements are met in a cost-effective and timely manner.
In its Dec 13 notice, Andersen Air Force Base also said the upgrades are aimed at providing critical infrastructure that would enhance the US’ military posture west of the International Date Line and enhance the ability of the USAF “to support US and partner nation forces within the region and strengthen the US’ ability to respond regionally and worldwide”.
Guam, approximately 4,700km from Singapore, is considerably closer than Mountain Home Air Force Base in the US state of Idaho. The latter, located 13,680km away, is where the RSAF has had an F-15SG training detachment since 2009.
Dr Collin Koh, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said the setting up of an F-15 detachment in Guam would enable the RSAF to access the vast training areas in the airspace and waters surrounding Guam, noting that “the Republic of Singapore Navy also has training links with Guam through Exercise Pacific Griffin, this web of arrangements also helps potentially build the SAF’s (Singapore Armed Forces) overall capacity for integrated or joint warfare”.
He added that there was a “definite logistics benefit” to having an overseas fighter training detachment nearer to Singapore as it would enable the RSAF to bring its fighter jets back to Singapore faster in the event of a contingency and would require the use of less support aircraft such as tankers for refuelling the fighters.
The RSAF sent its F-15s and other jets for short-term training stints in Guam on four previous occasions — in 2017, 2019, 2021 and 2023. Mindef says these overseas training detachments are integral to meeting the RSAF’s training requirements as the access to vast airspace overseas allows the RSAF to overcome local airspace constraints and conduct high-end, realistic training.
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