Five German Air Force (Luftwaffe) Eurofighter fighter aircraft landed in Singapore's Paya Lebar Air Base on Aug. 16 at around 7pm.
From Germany to Singapore in less than 24 hours
The aircraft were part of the Luftwaffe's Rapid Pacific 2022, which according to AP, shows the German military's ability to deploy military aircraft to the Indo-Pacific region in under 24 hours.
Der deutsche Botschafter in Singapur, Dr. Norbert Riedel, erklärt warum unsere Verlegung #RapidPacific2022 ein wichtiges Zeichen ist. Auch weit über den rein militärischen Nutzen hinaus. Denn wir teilen das Ideal einer offenen, multilateralen Welt. @GermanyinSGP @AuswaertigesAmt pic.twitter.com/NUlts3HQBu— Team Luftwaffe (@Team_Luftwaffe) August 17, 2022
The five Eurofighters were joined by three A330 tanker aircraft and four A400M transporters as they made the almost 12,800-kilometre journey from Neuberg in Bavaria to Singapore in under 21 hours.
We are about to start our 24h-Luftwaffe-challenge. Follow us here for all news about #RapidPacific2022. From 🇩🇪 to 🇸🇬 in 24hr. @GermanyInOz @GermanyinSGP @GermanyinJapan @GermanyinKorea @AusAirForce @JASDF_PAO_ENG @TheRSAF pic.twitter.com/Q2Ek4JF4PZ— Team Luftwaffe (@Team_Luftwaffe) August 15, 2022
However, although six fighter jets set off from Germany, one of the fighters reported a fault in its hydraulic system mid-journey, which was discovered during a pilot change stop in Abu Dhabi, The Independent reported. This forced a delay as repair personnel were flown out from Germany to fix the issue.
The other five jets continued on their journey, which involved nine air refuelling operations in the 21-hour journey.
Jet wrapped with commemorative livery
Ironically, the jet that was held back appears to have been the one decorated with a special commemorative livery to mark the occasion.
Take off!! Unser #AirAmbassador ist heute das erste Mal geflogen. Mit Vorfreude auf #RapidPacific2022 präsentieren wir die ersten Luftaufnahmen. @AusAirForce @JASDF_PAO_ENG @eurofighter @TheRSAF @GermanyinJapan @GermanyinSGP @GermanyInOz @RAAF_ACAUST pic.twitter.com/JCsr1Rfwqh— Team Luftwaffe (@Team_Luftwaffe) August 4, 2022
With the German flag painted across its main body, its wings were decorated with the flags of Australia, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea, four countries that the detachment will visit while it is in Asia.
You can see how the aircraft is wrapped with the special livery here:
Der #AirAmbassador ist foliert, die letzten Vorbereitungen für #RapidPacific2022 laufen. Am Montag geht es los mit der größten Verlegung in der Geschichte der Luftwaffe. Wir begleiten mit einem 24 Stunden Twitter-Marathon bis nach Singapur. Stay tuned. 👉https://t.co/rEqiN2sBtc pic.twitter.com/SYBFNN0Wjt— Team Luftwaffe (@Team_Luftwaffe) August 13, 2022
The visit represents the most significant peacetime deployment by the Luftwaffe in modern history, and comes on the heels of a seven-month voyage by the German naval ship Bayern in the Indo-Pacific region between 2021 and 2022. The Bayern visited Singapore in December 2021.
Nov 5 Japan's DM Kishi inspected German frigate FS Bayern - Germany's 1st ship to visit Japan in 20 years. After Japan, Bayern will visit ROK, Vietnam & Singapore and sail through #SouthChinaSea. Via @kyodo_english https://t.co/9zWeEwEO42 pic.twitter.com/pOoXS56Fbp— South China Sea Connect (@Scs_Connect) November 8, 2021
Shift in Germany's Indo-Pacific strategy?
The visit comes at a time of particularly high tensions between China and the West, particularly the United States, but also the other members of the G7 group of nations.
The G7, of which Germany is a member of, had released its unified assessment of the military exercises China held in the waters around Taiwan in retaliation for U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi's unannounced visit.
We, the @G7 Foreign Ministers reaffirm our shared commitment to maintaining the rules-based international order, peace & stability across the Taiwan Strait and are concerned by recent and announced threatening actions by the People’s Republic of #China. https://t.co/C86VX0mMwk— GermanForeignOffice (@GermanyDiplo) August 3, 2022
This deployment, however, has been part of a long-standing plan on Germany's part to engage the Indo-Pacific -- it announced its decision to visit the region in late July 2022, before Pelosi's trip was confirmed.
In addition, German air force chief Ingo Gerhartz was quoted by DW saying that Rapid Pacific 2022 should not alarm China. The aircraft's planned routes would "barely touch" the South China Sea, and would not pass through the Taiwan Strait, moving on international routes.
All Quiet on the Eastern Front
The main reason for the deployment is itself a series of military exercises, most prominently Exercise Pitch Black, which is being held in Australia's Northern Territories, over the course of the next three weeks, from Aug. 19 to Sept. 8.
Exercise Pitch Black involves 17 countries. Over 100 aircraft and 2,500 personnel are deployed. The participating countries include the Quad states of the Australia, the U.S., Japan, and India. It also involves five Asean states, including Singapore, and three European Union states -- Germany, France, and the Netherlands.
The Luftwaffe planes will also take part in an Australian Naval Exercise Kakadu in the later half of September. They will then visit South Korea and Japan, as well as train with the Singaporean Air Force, as reported by DefenseNews.
The German military will also be participating in Exercise SEACAT from Aug. 16, which according to the U.S. Navy, aims to standardise participating nations' "tactics, techniques, and procedures", in addressing "crises, contingencies, and illegal activities in the maritime domain".
SEACAT, as per the U.S. Navy, involves several of the same countries in Pitch Black, but also includes seven other countries, including Brunei and Vietnam. It is not clear if the fighter jets are also participating.
But it appears that the Luftwaffe were not the only visitors in town this week, with their official Twitter page sending a friendly greeting to a UK Royal Air Force Eurofighter that also landed in Paya Lebar Air Base.
Our friends from the @RoyalAirForce have just arrived in Singapore with their #Eurofighters. It is always a pleasure to help our friends out 🤙. #PlugAndFight #RapidPacific2022 pic.twitter.com/8Tx1QoQANm— Team Luftwaffe (@Team_Luftwaffe) August 16, 2022
Top image via @team_luftwaffe/Twitter