Singapore secures 25-year extension to train at airbase in Western Australia

Published: 23.08.2017 Related countries:  Singapore Singapore

Singapore and Australia have signed a treaty to extend the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s (RSAF) access to Pearce airbase in Western Australia for a further 25 years, after the existing deal expires next year.

Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen and his Australian counterpart Marise Payne signed the new deal on Monday (Aug 21) at the 10th meeting of the Singapore-Australia Joint Ministerial Committee (SAJMC), a high-level bilateral dialogue mechanism involving the foreign, defence and trade ministers that is hosted alternately between Singapore and Australia.


The current Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) allows the RSAF to maintain and operate a Flying Training Institute at Base Pearce in Western Australia till 2018.

It has now been upgraded to a bilateral treaty and will have to be ratified by the Australian Parliament.

Ms Payne noted during a joint press conference with Dr Ng that Singapore and Australia have a “solid, deep and strong bilateral defence relationship”, adding that both sides have a shared intent towards a safe and secure region.

She added that the Pearce treaty was a “great example” of the partnership between Singapore and Australia.

On his part, Dr Ng said that he was “delighted” about the extension. 

During the SAJMC, both sides also agreed to strengthen tourism cooperation, under a MoU signed by Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang and Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Steven Ciobo. 

The MoU would facilitate the sharing of insights and approaches to address tourism supply side issues, as well as opportunities in investments and infrastructure enhancements. 

Singapore and Australia will also exchange information, data, research and analytical projects in the field of tourism.

Singapore and Australia share a long-standing and multifaceted relationship, with cooperation that spans the political, economic, defence, culture and the arts, and people-to-people spheres. 

Both sides signed a joint declaration on a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in June 2015 to deepen economic integration, expand defence cooperation, promote innovation and entrepreneurship, and strengthen people-to-people ties over the next decade.

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has been conducting unilateral training in Australia for over 20 years. 

Last year, both countries signed an enhanced deal that allowed the SAF to conduct unilateral training in Australia for 18 weeks with 14,000 troops per year over 25 years, in training areas 10 times the size of Singapore. Singapore and Australia also said they would jointly develop military training areas and advanced facilities in northern Australia.

The Republic has also secured the use of the Townsville Field Training Area in Queensland, which is about four times the size of Singapore. 

The Australian military is in the process of acquiring another piece of training ground to join them together so that the total will be five times the size of the Republic.

Commenting on the expansion of the Townsville training area, Ms Payne said the “implementation was progressing particularly well”, adding that she looked forward for construction to begin in 2019.

Concurring, Dr Ng said that the project is “on track”. He added that the facilities to be built will not only benefit the Singaporean and Australian military but also the people of Queensland. 

SAF’s current training facilities in Shoalwater Bay, which is around four times the size of Singapore, will be expanded in future to become an area around five times the size of the Republic.

During the SAJMC meeting, Dr Ng and Ms Payne reaffirmed the close and long-standing bilateral defence relationship between both countries, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement on Monday. 

"Dr Ng and Ms Payne also exchanged views on regional and global security issues, including the growing threat of regional terrorism. Both ministers highlighted the urgent need for greater regional and international cooperation in counter-terrorism efforts, and reaffirmed both countries’ commitment to the global fight against terrorism."