July 28, 2006

US plans to extend Singapore F-16 pilot training

By Jim Wolf

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration plans to
extend Singapore F-16 fighter pilots' use of an Arizona
training range and munitions, in a deal valued at up to $301
million, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Singapore needs the continued use of Luke Air Force Base,
Arizona, to train pilots for its current and future F-16
inventory, the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency
said in a notice to Congress.

The long-term pilot training program enhances the
island-state's ability to operate side-by-side with U.S. forces
in coalition operations, the notice said.

"Singapore is a firm supporter of the global war on
terrorism and has deployed forces to assist in Operation Iraqi
Freedom," the U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the
Pentagon said.

The proposed deal would cover 105,000 20mm cartridges as
well as 12 AIM-9 Sidewinder coolant bottles, fuel and related
costs, the notice said.

The value would total $301 million if all options are
exercised, it said. The notice did not specify when Singapore's
F-16 pilots started at Luke Air Force Base, which has been a
training ground for Taiwan's F-16 pilots since 1997, according
to the nonpartisan U.S. Congressional Research Service.