Maintenance trends are one of the most underrated issues in the defense field. Britain is leading the way with “contracting for availability” approaches that pay fixed annual costs over a system’s lifetime, and reward firms for ready-to-go weapons rather than paying for spares and maintenance hours. America, and many other air forces as well, are grappling with aging aircraft fleets whose average age exceeds their pilots’.
Singapore’s Minister for Defence Teo Chee Hean recently officiated at a parade to inaugurate the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s (RSAF) new Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Command. UAV Command has been constituted as an integrated entity, with personnel from the Army, Navy & Air Force as well as from the Joint Staff. The new command will provide tactical support for operations, and they are also tasked with developing the armed forces’ capabilities and skills in unmanned systems operations.
A proliferation of UGV (unmanned ground vehicle) robots and waldos heads for the world’s conflict zones. Back in America, DARPA’s Grand Challenge dared inventors to produce a true robotic vehicle that could navigate a per-set course with no human assistance. Now Singapore’s Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) is offering one million Singapore dollars ($652,000) in the TechX challenge to whoever develops a robot that completes a stipulated set of tasks related to urban warfare.
Singapore’s Ministry of Defence has announced that they intend to strike an agreement with the German Federal Ministry of Defence for the sale of 96 Leopard 2A4 tanks (66 front-line, 30 spares) plus training and supporting equipment from the German Armed Forces to the Singapore Armed Forces. SAF soldiers will be trained by the German Army to operate the tank in the later part of 2007.
Singapore Today Online quotes Defence Minster Teo Chee Hean as saying that the first Leopard 2A4s will enter service in about a year or a year and a half. “We looked at a number of different alternatives and the German offer of refurbished Leopard tanks is a very cost-effective option for us to start replacing some of the SM1s.” Given Germany’s past Leopard sales, this point is hardly surprising; what might be surprising is that Singapore plans to keep its upgraded 1960s-era AMX-13s in service even after the Leopards arrive.
The government of Singapore has selected the GE F110 fighter engine to power its 12-20 new Boeing F-15SG Strike Eagle aircraft. Engine deliveries for the firm order of 12 aircraft will occur in 2008-2009. The Singapore selection of the F110-GE-129 (rated at 29,000 pounds thrust) is the second F-15 aircraft selection for the popular fighter engine. The Republic of Korea (ROKAF) selected the engine to power its 40 F-15K Slam Eagle aircraft and began taking deliveries in October 2005.
Elbit Systems Ltd. reported that its 40%-owned subsidiary, Tadiran Communications Ltd., announced yesterday that it signed an agreement valued at $55 million with “an Asian country.” Under the agreement, Tadiran will provide the customer with “advanced communications systems and equipment.” The firm has already received full advance payment for the first phase of the agreement, under which Tadiran will provide equipment valued at $5.5 million. The remainder of the contract is expected to be performed in three phases during 2006-2007. See corporate release [PDF].
Israeli announcements are often somewhat cryptic, as Arab hostility and anti-Jewish bigotry can create problems for some of their customers. In Singapore, for instance, Israeli military advisers were often described as “Mexicans” during the city-state’s early days. Because of DID’s insistence on attaching detail information to the contracts we cover, however, Israeli contracts tend to be slightly under-reported. Elbit’s subsidiary (now a 100% subsidiary) Elisra’s recent $80 million contract with an unnamed customer for fighter electronic warfare suites [PDF] is an example of something DID tends to pass on covering.
Kockums AB, which is part of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, has signed a contract with Singapore’s Ministry of Defence to supply two SSK Vastergotland Class diesel-electric submarines to the Republic of Singapore Navy. These ships will join four Kockums AB Challenger Class submarines, and the Kockums-manufactured Landsort Class mine hunters (MCMVs) and related mine-clearance systems already in service with the Republic of Singapore Navy. Terms were not disclosed by either party.
The Vastergotland Class is currently in service with the Royal Swedish Navy as well, but under a different name and with some important technology differences.