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Singapore - New Helicopters To Match Today's Defence Challenges (10 Apr 2003)

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Tony Tan unveiled eight Apache Longbow attack helicopters yesterday. Singapore's United States-based company of Apache attack helicopters are based at the Peace Vanguard detachment in Fort Marana, Arizona.

The Apache choppers were a step for the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) to further improve their capability to meet today's defence challenges. At the inauguration ceremony, Dr. Tan said that it was essential for allied nations to work together to ensure security in these uncertain times.

Summarizing the sign of the times, Dr. Tan commented that "catastrophic terrorism" had become a reality to all countries since the events that happened on September 11, 2001 in the US. Other events like the war in Iraq and the continuous threat imposed by North Korea's nuclear tests further stress the importance of like-minded countries to "cooperate to enhance our common security".

Quoting the example of the defence ties between Singapore and the US, Dr. Tan said that their relations were based on the similar desire to see security and stability in the Asia-pacific region and their priority in upholding the freedom of navigation sea and air lines of communications. It is therefore important for the US military to be present to ensure regional stability.

Singapore has provided facilities to support this presence since the US bases in Subic and Clark had been closed down. Currently, a significant number of US aircraft and ships call at or transit through Singapore.

He also stressed Singapore's support of US's coalition efforts for the immediate disarmament of Iraq.

Dr. Tan is on a six-day official visit and is slated to meet Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice.

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