ROCKHAMPTON, AUSTRALIA – Exercise Wallaby, Singapore’s largest overseas deployment of military personnel, is now on its second phase, and will involve live-firing and heliborne operations.
Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung, who will be attending the exercise for the first time, is expected to join servicemen from the 3rd Guards and Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) helicopter squadrons over the next week.
This year’s exercise, which began on Sept 3 at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA), looks set to wrap up its 27th year of the unilateral military training exercise in early November (Nov 4). It involves some 4,000 Singapore Armed Forces personnel and 400 platforms – including the Light Strike Vehicle, Apache helicopter and Leopard tank – in three phases.
SAF has held yearly exercises in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area since 1990. The area lies around 140km north of Rockhampton in Queensland, Australia.
With a training area of 2,800 sq km, nearly four times the total land area of Singapore, the plot of training land can accommodate up to 6,600 people over 65 days of training.
The large space allows army, naval and air force units to conduct large-scale complex operations, integrated live firing of long-range munitions, such as the Spike missile and tank rounds, and enables land units to perform complex battalion-level manoeuvres.
RSAF also practises low-level military flights, where planes can fly under 500ft, over an adjacent and uninhabited navigation area that is around eight times the size of Singapore.
An ongoing development of training infrastructure and an expansion of training areas in Australia, including an area near Townsville, looks set to expand the capacity to 14,000 personnel over 18 weeks in a A$2.25 billion (S$2.4 billion) deal between Singapore and Australia.
This is despite an outcry from local farmers last year over efforts to acquire their farmland, according to local reports.
A total of 88,000 servicemen have taken part in the exercise so far.