SINGAPORE – The Singapore and Malaysian air forces are taking part in a search-and-rescue (SAR) exercise in Malaysia meant to enhance coordination between them.

In the five-day Search-and-Rescue Exercise (Sarex) Malsing, which began on Monday (Sept 30), participants planned and executed joint aerial search and medical evacuation operations based on a simulated aerial mishap situation, said the Ministry of Defence on Wednesday (Oct 2).

For the first time, the exercise held at Kuantan Air Base involved a Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) AS332 Super Puma helicopter and a Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) EC725 helicopter in search-and-rescue scenarios.

Airmen from both sides also exchanged professional knowledge and discussed areas for further cooperation.

Last year’s Sarex Malsing held in Singapore – the first bilateral exercise between the two air forces – was a command post exercise involving planning and no actual deployment of aircraft.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the exercise on Wednesday, Chief of Air Force, Major-General Kelvin Khong, said that with Malaysia and Singapore close to each other geographically, there would be times when close coordination was needed on their SAR responses to save lives promptly and safely.

“It is therefore important that our air forces are enhancing cooperation through professional exchanges of our respective SAR practices which will keep communication channels open, and grow competencies in an important area like SAR,” he said.

He co-officiated the ceremony with RMAF chief, General Affendi Buang.

Mindef said that in addition to Sarex Malsing, the RSAF and the RMAF also interact regularly across a wide range of activities, including bilateral visits and professional exchanges.

They also interact during multilateral activities under the Five Power Defence Arrangements, Mindef added.