Singapore and Australia have signed a treaty on military training and training area development in view of the global Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

The treaty was signed by Singapore’s Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen and Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds in Australia.

Signed during the 5th Singapore-Australia Leaders’ Meeting, the treaty is an upgrade of the bilateral memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in 2016 on military training and training area development in Australia.

The MoU was signed under the Singapore-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP). It marks a significant milestone in defence relations between both countries.

Under the latest agreement, the Singapore Armed Forces (Saf) will get improved military training access in Australia.

The treaty also facilitates the joint development of military training areas and facilities in an expanded Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) and a new Greenvale Training Area (GVTA) in Queensland.

Furthermore, within the expanded SWBTA and the new GVTA, advanced training facilities such as the Combined Arms Air-Land Ranges and Urban Operations Live-Firing Facilities will be built by 2024 and 2028 respectively.

Once completed, the SAF will be able to conduct integrated training across all three services for up to 18 weeks. This will involve up to 14,000 personnel a year, for 25 years in training areas.

The advanced training facilities, which will deepen defence cooperation, will also benefit the armed forces.

Previously, the SAF and the Australian Defence Force carried out extensive interactions including bilateral and multilateral exercises, professional exchanges, cross attendance of courses, and joint operational deployment.