28 Juli 2015
A Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk naval helicopter from the Republic of Singapore Air Force lands on the USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) during deck landing qualifications as part of 'CARAT' 2015. (photo : US Navy)
In a sign of greater interoperability between the armed forces of the two countries, the US Navy's (USN's) Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) has conducted deck landing qualifications for a Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF's) S-70B naval helicopter during a bilateral naval exercise.
"The RSAF's S-70B Seahawk deck landing qualification on board Fort Worth during this year's Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training' ('CARAT') 2015 Singapore was the first time that the aircraft has landed on a littoral combat ship," Lieutenant Lauryn Dempsey, spokeswoman for the USN's Destroyer Squadron 7, said in response to questions from IHS Jane's on 27 July.
The qualifications were conducted during the sea phase of the exercise, part of a series of bilateral naval drills between the USN and the armed forces of nine partner countries in south and Southeast Asia.
'CARAT' Singapore 2015 ran from 13-24 July and featured ashore and at-sea phases, the latter focusing on conventional maritime warfare operations including anti-air, anti-surface, and anti-submarine operations.
"With LCS now a routine presence in the region, the ability to cross-deck RSAF helicopters on LCS brings significant versatility to our joint operations together, and provides opportunities for our navies to strengthen our interoperability during future exercises," Lt Dempsey said.
Another highlight of this year's drills was the inaugural deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in conventional maritime operational scenarios by both the USN and the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN).
The RSN operated Boeing-Insitu ScanEagle UAVs from its Victory-class guided-missile corvettes RSS Vigour (P 92) and RSS Valour (P 89), while the USN deployed a Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout UAV from Fort Worth . The UAVs were employed for maritime surveillance operations.
An RSAF S-70B helicopter operating from the RSN's Formidable-class frigate RSS Supreme (73) also took part in combined torpedo firing exercises with a USN MH-60R Seahawk helicopter.
"CARAT Singapore has increased in scope and complexity over the years," Colonel Seah Poh Yeen, co-commander of the task group for 'CARAT' Singapore 2015, said in a statement released by Singapore's Ministry of Defence on 22 July. "The successful conduct of the combined torpedo firing and the UAV operations underscores the high level of interoperability and trust both navies have achieved," he said.
The US and Singapore armed forces have been involved in the 'CARAT' exercises series since it began in 1995. Following 'CARAT' Singapore 2015, additional bilateral phases of the exercise will occur through November 2015 with Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Timor-Leste.