The Republic of Singapore Air Force wants to demonstrate that the tiny, heavily armed nation could defend itself even after its military bases were smashed. And so it recently held Exercise Torrent, which involved turning a strip of Singaporean asphalt road into a makeshift airstrip for F-15s and F-16s.
Engineers went to work on 1.55-mile a stretch of Lim Chu Kang Road, clearing potential obstacles including 153 lamp posts, 58 road signs, and 12 bus stops. Next, a mobile air traffic control tower, solar powered airfield lights, distance-to-go markers, and path indicators were laid out to make it as much like a regular runway as possible. A mobile arrestor gear system, similar to the wire and tailhook landing system on aircraft carriers, was set up to cut the distance a jet needs to land.
Finally, trucks designed to suck up tiny bits of garbage and junk that could be lethal to turbofan engines came over from , a quarter-mile away, and gave the new airstrip a good vacuuming. Forty-eight hours later, and made the first flights from the road.
Here's another look:
Singapore conducts exercises such as these to prove it can withstand enemy attack. The U.S. military, on the other hand, rarely trains specifically to operate from converted highways. An exception was last June, when, in a designed to counter Russian intimidation in the Baltics, four A-10 Warthogs operated from the Jägala highway in Estonia.
Generally the deal for American allies is that the U.S. can provide airpower but the host country must provide a secure airfield. If America's allies want help to arrive on Day 2 of their war, it's up to them to follow Singapore's lead and make sure the Americans have somewhere to land.
Who knows? U.S. fighters too may someday be operating from the Lim Chu Kang Road.