Mountain Home AFB, home of… The Singapore Air Force?

Yep. Or at least, a fair portion of it. Mountain Home AFB, in Idaho, is home to one of the Air Force’s F-15E Strike Eagle fighter wings.  These Eagles are specialized air-to-ground variants of the long serving F-15 family, and still retain full air-to-air capability.  In practice, the F-15E is the successor to the F-111 Aardvark. The US operates about 200 F-15Es. It’s also becoming a rather successful export product. Variants have been sold to South Korea, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Singapore.

Singapore is, per capita, pretty damn wealthy. But it is also more of a city, than a country. And its exposed position at the tip of the Malay  Peninsula leaves it vulnerable. And so Singapore invests very heavily in airpower.

And it’s a very respectable air force. In addition to the F-15SG, RSAF also operates other very respectable frontline aircraft such as the F-16C/D  Block 52+, the AH-64D Apache, the CH-47D Chinook, modern AEW aircraft and modern transport aircraft, including KC-135R tankers.  That is pretty damn respectable for a country pretty roughly the size of New York City.

The problem is, being such a small country, they have virtually no airspace of their own. In a shooting war, busting some borders isn’t a problem. But in peacetime, the restricted airspace means opportunities for effective training are limited. Because of this, about a third of the Republic of Singapore Air Force is actually stationed overseas.

Most of their basic flight training takes place in Australia. RSAF also maintains a training base in France.  But here in the good old USA, the Republic of Singapore Air Force has no less than four training locations.

Luke AFB, AZ  is home to RSAF F-16 operational training. Silverbell Army Heliport , also known as the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site, at Marana, AZ is home to AH-64D training. Redmond Taylor AHP, part of the Joint Reserve Base Dallas complex, is home to CH-47D training. That leaves Mountain Home Air Force Base.

As noted, Mountain Home is already home to one of the US Air Force’s Strike Eagle wings, so bedding down the RSAF Strike Eagles there makes sense. Plus, Mountain Home has a very respectable range complex available for training.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5e/428th_Fighter_Squadron_-_Boeing_F-15SG_Strike_Eagle_05-0005.jpg

Oddly, the RSAF squadrons stationed in the US have adopted US squadron numbers and tailcode markings, though they wear RSAF roundels. Currently, the squadron at MHAFB is the 428th Fighter Squadron.

Actually, here’s where it gets a little weird. The 428th Fighter Squadron is a US squadron. It has about 25 US Air Force personnel assigned. And about 140 RSAF folks. And falls under the 366th Operations Group, along with two US fighter squadrons. Of course, it isn’t a deployable asset like the other two squadrons.

In addition to serving as a training squadron for the RSAF, having roughly a third of their F-15SG fleet stationed here leaves them a nice war reserve to replace any losses Singapore may suffer.

This is hardly the only foreign fighter squadron to be stationed in the US. For many, many years, Germany maintained F-4F and Panavia Tornado squadrons in the US for a similar purpose.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/37/428th_Fighter_Squadron_-_Lockheed_F-16C_Block_52_Fighting_Falcon_94-270.jpg

Earlier incarnation of the 428th Fighter Squadron, when it was the prime RSAF F-16 training unit stationed at Cannon AFB, NM.