Spartan USVs for Singapore’s Navy
Soldiers in Iraq aren’t the only people using remote control vehicles to investigate suspicious activities without getting too close. Singapore just unveiled a fleet of two-ton Spartan Scout Unmanned Surface Vessels (USV), which Defense Minister Teo Chee Hean said would give the city-state a high-tech boost in the battle against maritime piracy and terrorism. “The USVs allow ships to deploy such a vessel without getting the men into too close contact with a suspicious boat, which may have undesirable intentions,” Teo told reporters after the demonstration.
The Spartan Scout is a 7-11 meter Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat that can operate by remote control as a modular, reconfigurable, multi-mission, high-speed, semi-autonomous unmanned surface vehicle (USV) capable of carrying payloads of 3,000 pounds (7-meter) or 5,000 pounds (11-meter). At present they carry sensors, but plans are underway to test weaponized versions, including versions that could carry Hellfire or Javelin anti-armor missiles for use against targets or small craft.
The Spartan Scout was created by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, RI, in conjunction with Radix Marine, Northrop-Grumman, and Raytheon. The craft were tested in Dec 2003 aboard the US Navy Cruiser Gettysberg (CG 64).
Among its other potential missions, the USV is being developed as a low-cost means of extending maritime patrol coverage and providing anti-terrorism force protection (AT/FP) for the fleet. In Singapore’s case, there’s also a focus on intercepts of suspected pirates. The island nation has already operated RAFAEL’s Protector series USVs during a deployment near Iraq. Singapore’s MinDef did not say how much the Spartan USVs cost, nor exactly how many Protector USVs the Singapore Navy had.
Singapore is developing the Spartan in conjunction with the U.S. Navy, who is also looking to use USVs as adjuncts to larger ships. Indeed, Nav Log notes that “Near future Scout tests are to include demonstrations of Mine Warfare (MIW) capabilities and Anti-submarine Warfare (ASW) capabilities.”
- StrategyPage (June 14/05) – Robotic Ship Talks to Startled Sailors. It was one of Singapore’s, deployed near Iraq. Dunnigan notes the craft as a Spartan Scout, but other information and the timing in 2003 suggests the USV may have been a RAFAEL Protector. Note that Singapore tends to downplay its use of Israeli equipment, and would be especially motivated to do so regarding its usage in the Persian Gulf.
- The Joint Center for International and Security Studies (Oct. 2002) – The Information Revolution in Military Affairs, Prospects for Asia: Singapore and the Revolution in Military Affairs [PDF]