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Singapore, Thailand and US air forces mark 30th anniversary of military exercise

A Republic of Singapore Air Force F-15SG is shown during a deployment on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, May 24, 2021. The RSAF has been deploying fighter aircraft to Guam for rotational training since 2017. (Staff Sgt. Nicholas Crisp/ U.S. Air Force)
March 24, 2024

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) is taking part in a large-scale trilateral air exercise with the air forces of Thailand and the United States that is now in its 30th year.

The RSAF has sent 27 aircraft, eight ground-based air defence systems and more than 700 personnel to take part in the air combat exercise taking place in Thailand, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said on March 19.

In total, 77 assets and more than 2,000 personnel from Singapore, Thailand and the US are involved in Exercise Cope Tiger 2024, which is being conducted at Korat Air Base in Thailand from March 18 to 28.

For the first time, the RSAF’s H225M medium-lift helicopters, as well as the US Air Force’s F-35A fighter aircraft, are participating in the exercise.

Mindef said participants will engage in air defence and strike missions in a challenging environment, allowing them to “sharpen their operational competencies”.

In addition to training, personnel from the three air forces will take part in programmes to engage local communities and schools near the Korat Air Base and Chandy Range.

The RSAF’s exercise director, Colonel Sebastian Chai, said that this year’s Exercise Cope Tiger is “special” because it marks three decades since the exercise started in 1994.

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“The fact that we have sustained this exercise for the past 30 years reflects the strong commitment by the three air forces towards this trilateral relationship,” he added.

Since its inception in 1994, the exercise has enhanced the professionalism and defence relations among the three nations, as well as promoted close rapport and mutual understanding among personnel, Mindef said.

Col Chai said the RSAF participates in Exercise Cope Tiger every year, and that is important for two key reasons.

He said: “First, the large training airspace in Thailand gives us the opportunity to conduct realistic, high-end, large force employment training to hone our operational competencies, something that we cannot replicate in Singapore.

“Second, this exercise also provides the opportunity for us to interact and also to learn from our Royal Thai Air Force and US Air Force counterparts, and also strengthen the excellent defence relations with our partners.”

Singapore’s incoming Chief of Air Force, Brigadier-General Kelvin Fan, will officiate at the closing ceremony on March 29, along with the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Punpakdee Pattanakul, and the Commander of Pacific Air Forces, General Kevin B. Schneider.


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