1. While there is no confirmation on ASCMs, the moment you mention OPV, as a reference point, to describe the 4 new patrol vessels, I know that you do not understand the Singapore Navy’s concern with the Littoral Zone. The littorals have become and will increasingly be critical to the global economy and the SAF’s concept of joint operations. To be relevant a MSTF Flotilla (and not the 1st Flotilla, to be used to secure Singapore’s SLOCs up to 1,000 km away), operating in the Singapore Straits, around Pedra Branca, and the near abroad, must have the ability to secure the littorals, dispute them, or just as importantly exercise in them in the face of an enemy who will contest them....but with anti ship missile?
..more like an OPV.
• Different platforms perform each of these tasks, some more effectively than others, which should drive fleet architectures.
• Once a navy engages in ramming as a tactic against an aggressor, we must be prepared that the aggressor will shoot back, just as the North Koreans did on 15 June 1999 and on 29 June 2002. South Korean patrol boat PKM-357 (Chamsuri-class vessel) succumbed to damage and sank in the 2002 battle — with 6 killed and 18 wounded — when it was hosting the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
• I note that for Korea, the replacement for the Chamsuri-class is the Yun Youngha-class missile patrol vessel or PKX-A(PKG), that is armed with 4 ASCMs. Even the PKX-B variant includes 130 mm guided rockets on the stern, on top of a 76mm main gun. If any aggressor shoots at any Singapore patrol vessel, the aggressor must know the redline has been crossed and an ASCM is on the way to destroy the aggressor’s vessel — our naval platform mix must have escalation dominance.
2. As the proliferation of weapons changes the littoral environment, the Singapore Navy is forced to re-examine its fleet architecture and has to make some significant changes to remain threat relevant in the next 25 years. The US Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, Calif., established in 2013 a Littoral Operations Center (LOC) to focus on the global littorals. NPS is working with the Swedish and Singapore navies to refine ideas, to conduct war games and to study the threats and counter measures including:
(i) The Tamil Sea Tigers who tied the Sri Lankan navy in knots through the use of small attack boats and suicide explosive vessels. Had they possessed ASCMs they could possibly have won. Similar challenges that arise when an ASEAN member, like the Philippines or Malaysia, is in conflict with irregular forces, such as, Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines’ archipelagic environment or 2013 Lahad Datu standoff in Sabah.
(ii) Effectively using the MSTF with the deployment of 4 navy vessels (along with the Police Coast Guard and other agencies) to secure the waters off Capella Hotel during the Kim-Trump summit from potential terrorist or missile attacks. For added security, the Singapore Navy increased the number of close escort operations carried out on merchant vessels. Along with land forces, the SAF deployed or put on standby UAVs, AH-64Ds, Super Pumas, fighters and even a G550AEW also joined in the mission to protect the Kim-Trump summit.
(iii) The greatest threat will be the conduct of Littoral zone naval operations into places with conditions like that off the coast of Lebanon or Yemen — where anti-ship missiles were used to attack: (a) INS Hanit on 14 July 2006; and (b) USS Mason on 9 Oct 2016, where the destroyer detected and intercepted two inbound missiles over a 60-minute period around the Mandeb Strait while off-the-coast of Yemen. USS Mason’s intercept of the missiles was part of its and USS Nitze duties in escorting USS Ponce and USS San Antonio through the waters around the Mandeb Strait — which in this case means more than hard kill and decoys but also extends to Electronic Warfare (EW). Additional EW layers constituting protection are Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) or Electronic Attack (EA) subsystems such as Passive and Active (Jamming and Seduction) measures that are triggered by the electronic support system.
3. Singapore is keen to learn from the Swedish navy — who have in the past, greatly assisted with our MCMVs and submarine programs. “Driven by the small size of their armed forces and the extent and intricacy of their coastline, the Swedes have integrated all their services in a comprehensive littoral anti-access system,” LOC Director, NPS Senior Lecturer Dr. Kalev Sepp said. According to Sepp, the littoral is where hydrography, geography, commerce, fishing, political boundaries and claims, and military maneuver and sustainment issues converge, to complicate both the offense and the defense, and to place exceptional demands on naval, aerial, and land forces that must operate, fight, and influence events there. See: What Does It Take to Win in the Littoral?
5. Modern naval ship design also takes EW into account, specifically, considerable efforts are taken to reduce a ship’s radar cross section, and to suppress or mask the electromagnetic vulnerabilities of its sensors.
• The NGDS is a Decoy Launching System with its two-axis mobile DLS system in service in the French and Singapore navy. This countermeasure system provides protection against modern anti-ship missiles, as well as from asymmetric terrorist-type threats. With the information from on-board sensors and systems, the system calculates the best missile defeat solution and, being fully trainable in azimuth and elevation, then fires the decoys and places them in time in the optimal position without the ship having to manoeuvre to obtain an effective countermeasure solution.
• Elbit Systems provides the NATACS 2020 Naval Tactical COMINT/DF System, and the iSNS (Immune Satellite Navigation System). NATACS 2020 is a new generation of on-board Communications Intelligence (COMINT) Direction Finding (DF) systems that delivers a full naval picture through sophisticated handling of agile communications. The system’s COMINT antenna can be integrated with an ESM antenna – thus allowing maximum utilization of the vessel’s mast, as well as enabling significant space savings. Combining the data extracted by NATACS 2020 with the data obtained from on-board ESM systems enables completion of the mission-critical tactical naval picture.
• Rafael Advanced Defense Systems all-in-one SEWS-DV on-board/off-board EW ship protection suite effectively addresses the challenge of advanced Electronic Counter-Countermeasures (ECCM) threats. The system deceives and disrupts hostile radar signals. In the event of a missile attack, ships can salvo C-Gem, a shipbourne off-board active decoy as part of a vessels protective suite. Once launched, C-Gem floats down using a parachute, all the while signaling to lure a missile off its designated track.