Under the Peace Carvin II program, the 425th Fighter Squadron received nine borrowed ex-Thunderbird F-16A/Bs Dec. 30, 1992, and reactivated the squadron at Luke Air Force Base. This year will mark the 20th anniversary of this program and the U.S. Air Force’s special relationship with Singapore here at Luke.
The Black Widows are a unique fighter squadron. Unlike the majority of squadrons at Luke, more than 95 percent of the 425th is comprised of Republic of Singapore air force personnel including operations and maintenance folks. This distinctive ops and maintenance combination allows a tight-knit partnership. You’ll often time see this enhanced relationship firsthand as pilots walk side-by-side with the RSAF personnel that maintain the jets they fly during the maintenance team’s daily foreign object debris walks.
In addition, the Widows are unique in that they are an operational squadron. Maintaining combat-ready RSAF F-16 pilots often times takes our squadron on temporary duty to various locations. Just in the last two years, the squadron has showcased its combat capabilities on an international level with exercises such as Maple Flag in Canada, Red Flag in both Alaska and Nevada, Combat Archer in Florida, Green Flag in Louisiana and Exercise Forging Sabre right here at Luke, just to name a few.
No matter where the Widows execute the mission, the past 20 years have held a consistent theme. The members of the 425th FS have maintained an unwavering devotion to achieving their squadron vision: To become the benchmark fighter squadron in the world, committed to the pursuit of operational excellence. This is the driving force for both RSAF and U.S. Air Force Widows — and we live this ethos day-in and day-out.
It is this same daily devotion to excellence that has led our maintenance team to consistently outperform the status quo with maintenance effectiveness rates more than 98 percent, QA inspection results with compliance rates consistently 10 to 15 percent above the norm and to garner the title of 2011 Load Crew of the Year.
My goal in writing this article is not to tout our accomplishments, although I am very proud of our reputation, but rather to highlight the importance of sharing personal and professional cultural differences. The merging of U.S. and Singapore training helps develop a commonality between the air forces by enabling the sharing of best practices that may not have otherwise occurred.
We aren’t just celebrating 20 years of the Peace Carvin II detachment at Luke. We are celebrating 20 years of shared responsibility for training combat-ready F-16 pilots and logistic support personnel, 20 years of learning from cultural differences to produce a better end product and 20 years of forging memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.
Although I’ve only been in command of the Black Widows for four months, I already appreciate the invaluable experience that being involved in a foreign military squadron presents. The fusion of the U.S. Air Force and RSAF elevates the partnership between both nations and will assist in future operations — that is the true treasure in being part of the Black Widow experience.
Here’s to another 20 years of producing Widow Warriors … Feared throughout the land!