Thursday, December 5, 2013

Maritime role for Singapore's F-15SGs hinted at by USAF general

An interesting nugget about the Republic of Singapore Air Force and it's F-15SGs from the Chief of the USAF's Pacific Air Forces Gen. Herbert J. "Hawk" Carlisle, in an interview with the good folks at Breaking Defense.

“Singapore is doing very innovative things with their F-15s, notably in evolving the capabilities of the aircraft to contribute to maritime defense and security. We are looking very carefully at their innovations and can leverage their approach and thinking as well,” he said. “This will certainly grow as we introduce the fleet of F-35s in the Pacific where cross national collaboration is built in.”

He didn't give away too much for obvious reasons, but it is nevertheless interesting to read. One does wonder what sort of F-15SG capabilities in a maritime environment he is talking about, but I figure the statement about the F-35 above, and this more recent quote,

"Imagine, for example, a submarine and an F-22 working together"

from this interview should probably give us a clue. While not some exciting, big bang secret weapon many of us were probably hoping for, this is essentially the future of warfare: where disparate, totally different platforms can communicate and work together seamlessly to maximise their effectiveness during a time of conflict.

One can only imagine F-15SGs, using their sophisticated AESA radars and distributing information over secure networks via datalinks while operating from high altitude, providing updated, over the horizon targeting information for the Republic of Singapore Navy's Formidable-class frigates. Or in the future, even working with the recently-acquired Type 218SG submarines in a similar fashion. And that may not even be restricted to Singaporean platforms. It is not entirely inconceivable that the F-15SG's can do the same for allied ships, for example with Australia's upcoming Hobart-class Air Warfare destroyers in a future coalition ops scenario.

Or, it may really be an exciting, big bang secret weapon. Like the AGM-154 Joint Stand-Off Weapons that were included in an U.S. Foreign Military Sales notification to Singapore a few years back having been upgraded to C-1 standards to add the capability to hit moving targets. But there's nothing too "innovative" there, is there?

While we're on the F-15SG, latest counts indicate there could be 20 airframes already in Singapore. Following the RSAF's usual playbook, we can expect a second locally-based F-15SG squadron to be stood up very soon with a handful of aircraft marked in the new squadron's colours before more aircraft are added to bring aircraft numbers up to strength. With 24 F-15SGs (officially) on the RSAF's books, this would mean (an almost impossibly low) four aircraft currently left with the RSAF's training detachment at Mountain Home Air Force base in Idaho. More credence to rumours that the RSAF has more F-15SGs operational than offically disclosed? You tell me...

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