• A RSAF CH-47D Chinook (foreground) and two Australian Army CH-47Fs, taken at Avalon in February 2019.
Nigel Pittaway
    A RSAF CH-47D Chinook (foreground) and two Australian Army CH-47Fs, taken at Avalon in February 2019. Nigel Pittaway

Defence has confirmed that the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) will increase the number of Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters based at the Army Aviation Training Centre at Oakey under a bilateral agreement between Australia and Singapore.

“Defence can confirm that the number of RSAF Chinook helicopters based at Oakey will be increased under the terms of the current agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia and the Republic of Singapore,” a Defence spokesperson said.

ADM understands from other sources that 10 new-build CH-47Fs from an unannounced Singaporean order for 16 helicopters, signed in November 2016, will be based at Oakey. The first of the new helicopters are expected to arrive in the first quarter of 2021, with the balance being shipped directly to Singapore from the US.

Five RSAF CH-47D Chinooks have been based at Oakey since 2018 under the Oakey Agreement between the two countries, which allows up to 16 helicopters to be based in Australia at any given time for pilot training.

The agreement was signed in October 1996 and included provision for up to 12 Airbus Helicopters AS332M/M1Super Pumas to be relocated from Singapore to the Army Aviation facility at Oakey, with an option to include Chinook helicopters at a later date. The Oakey Agreement came into effect with the arrival of the first helicopters in September 1998. The Super Pumas have since returned to the island nation, replaced by the five CH-47Ds. It is not yet clear what will happen to the five heavy-lift Chinooks currently at Oakey once the new helicopters are delivered.

To accommodate the increased RSAF footprint at Oakey, FKG Group was awarded a contract in October 2016 under infrastructure Project A9032 (Republic of Singapore Air Force CH-47 Chinook, Super Puma and Support Logistics Infrastructure) as the Managing Contractor for the upgrade works.

“Facilities to support the agreement between Australia and Singapore were required, and works on the project commenced in January 2017,” the Defence spokesperson said. “The project included the refurbishment of existing RSAF helicopter training facilities and new support logistics and maintenance facilities, as well as airfield infrastructure.”

The works, valued at around $57.7 million, were completed in August 2019.

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