The 425th Fighter Squadron celebrated reaching a milestone of 50,000 flying hours at Luke Air Force Base Nov. 13. For the Republic of Singapore air force and Luke, this accomplishment reflects the committed partnership both have shared since the early ‘90s.
“The partnership and understanding we have enjoyed over the past 20 years has just been spectacular,” said Lt. Col. Maxmillion Goh, 425th FS senior ranking officer.
The 425th FS activated on Dec. 30, 1992. It was originally constituted as the 425th Night Fighter Squadron in 1943 then redesignated the 425th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron in 1969 before becoming the 425th FS.
The Black Widows, as they are affectionately known, are a highly decorated squadron with numerous Air Force outstanding unit awards. Aircraft historically flown by the squadron include the YP-61 Black Widow, and P-70 Nighthawk, as well as the F-16 Fighting Falcon currently flown by the squadron.
The unit gets its black widow emblem from its original mission as a night fighter squadron. Its mission today is to support Peace Carvin II, the RSAF F-16 detachment, which provides pilots with continuation training in the F-16A/B.
“Before I came here, I heard a lot of good things about PCII, so I had very high expectation about what I was getting into,” Goh said. “When I go back to Singapore, I know those pilots who have gone through PCII are performing at a very high level.”
RSAF pilots deploy to Luke to receive upgrade training after being qualified as wingmen.
“As an operational squadron, we work to get pilots through advanced upgrade training,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Nudi, 425th FS director of operations. “It typically takes two years and 60 to 70 upgrade sorties, including two upgrades while they’re here and typically one upgrade per year. Then they return to the operational squadrons in Singapore.”
Pilots receive their two-ship upgrade, which means they can now lead a wingman into combat and their four-ship upgrade certifying they can lead three other aircraft into combat. RSAF pilots rotate through the squadron every two years, with a change-over of 10 pilots every year.
“We typically fly 14 sorties a day,” Nudi said. “That’s about 280 sorties a month and 1.3 to 1.5 hours per sortie to meet the pilots’ training requirements.”
In addition to upgrade training, RSAF pilots enjoy many luxuries they can’t get back at their home station.
“The weather is beautiful and the airspace is great, which is one of the key things lacking in Singapore,” Goh said. “That is why we deploy all the way here. Four thousand flying hours per year is a lot more than RSAF fighter pilots are getting back home.”
It’s the best of both worlds for RSAF pilots, Nudi said. They receive high-end training in an open environment and access to plenty of ranges, and they are able to bring the block 52 aircraft to America to train.
Overall, the accomplishment of reaching 50,000 flying hours is an achievement that serves to bring together and further cement bilateral relationships.
“For us, it shows how much we have come together as a team to get the training requirements they desire and do it safely,” Nudi said. “It’s a celebration of 20 years of partnership and teamwork.”