Australia and Singapore have reaffirmed an agreement allowing the Singaporean Air Force to conduct fighter training in Western Australia.
Concluding on Monday the 10th Singapore-Australia Joint Ministerial Committee has agreed to sign the new Pearce Treaty which will see RSAF units continue to be based at RAAF Pearce, north of Perth, as a flight training institute. This will replace, and enhance, the existing arrangement – a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 1993 which was due to expire next year.
The new arrangement will also last for twenty-five years and, though there are no significant practical changes from the existing MOU, the upgrade to a treaty is reflective of the close defence ties between the two nations and the importance both nations place on the relationship.
RAAF Pearce is one of Australia’s busiest military air fields and, in addition to hosting 130 Squadron from the RSAF, is home to the RAAF’s pilot training schools and squadrons flying PC-9 and Hawk trainer aircraft. Singapore routinely bases its flying units overseas in countries such as Australia, France and the United States due to the limitations its clogged domestic airspace poses on flight training.
Singapore also has separate arrangements with Australia allowing its ground and helicopter forces to share Australian Defence Force training facilities in Queensland and the Northern Territory. The continuation of these activities was also supported at the committee with discussions on Singaporean investment into the Shoalwater Bay training area to improve facilities there.
Having been signed by the Australian and Singaporean defence ministers, Senator Marise Payne and Ng Eng Hen, the treaty will now have to go before both nations’ parliaments to be ratified. Current political difficulties in Canberra are not expected to impact its passing; the defence relationship with Singapore enjoys bipartisan support and its passing should be a formality.