The best strategy to defending Singapore Island

Gambit79

New Member
It’s been a while but all articles are interesting.
Aside to that, few takes to discuss further.

1)Will it be operationally adequate for the RSN to operate a squadron of four Type 218SG submarines taking into consideration the no of platforms deployed for operations/training/maintenance and stand by?

2)Till now, there have been no information if the tender for the RSN MRCV had kick off.Personally, I’m unsure if the ST Marine Vanguard 130 will meet the MRCV optimum operational requirements as I’ve read an article with the author mentioning that it’s a cramped vessel and the author said that another possible candidate will be Naval Shipyard enhanced Belharra Frigate taking into consideration that they had set up an R&D lab in Singapore.

3)Similar to the MRCV the RSN is still coy about details of this platform except of a Endurance 170LHD as shared by ST Marine as a possible export opportunity.
If we assume that Endurance 170 will be the selected platform for RSN JMMS, will the length of this platform too minimal towards F-35B requirements of 167meters long run way to take off?
Or hypothetically, will the Endurance 170 tailored to extended length for RSN JMMS requirements? E.g extended length of 177.5 meters or 179.5 meters

4)What about the future new four purpose built new vessels to enhance MARSEC assets? Possibly a Fearless 75? Similar to Royal Navy of Oman?

5)Will the RSAF set up another squadron of F-15SG? Possibly an enhanced platform with cue from F-15 EX?

Awaiting opinions from our forum experts on the above,thanks!
 

OPSSG

Super Moderator
Staff member
It’s been a while but all articles are interesting.
Aside to that, few takes to discuss further.
1. Hope your don/t mind, I have moved your post from the Republic of Singapore Air Force Discussions thread to the general discussion on the SAF thread, instead of the service specific RSN capabilities thread.

2. While this approach enables a complete answer to your questions in one location, it lacks the level of service specific detail provided in the Air Force and Navy threads. I feel this is the best way to keep you happy.
1)Will it be operationally adequate for the RSN to operate a squadron of four Type 218SG submarines taking into consideration the no of platforms deployed for operations/training/maintenance and stand by?
3. Yes, for the amount of money that the Singapore Government is currently willing to spend. Unless the Singapore Navy is better resourced, and given that it is the smallest service (with the Singapore Navy's budget is dwarfed by that of the RSAF), I think it did pretty well in the inter-service budget wars to get 4 new submarines.
2)Till now, there have been no information if the tender for the RSN MRCV had kick off.Personally, I’m unsure if the ST Marine Vanguard 130 will meet the MRCV optimum operational requirements as I’ve read an article with the author mentioning that it’s a cramped vessel and the author said that another possible candidate will be Naval Shipyard enhanced Belharra Frigate taking into consideration that they had set up an R&D lab in Singapore.
5. As opposed to which other design?

6. A ST spokesman mentioned that the Vanguard 130 design is a 5,000 ton class vessel (see this astute blog’s discussion on the Vanguard 130) - it is the Vanguard 130 Multi-role Combatant, the biggest and most capable ship in the series that fits the MRCV description most. At 130 metres it will already be significantly larger than the Formidable-class frigate and it has to be in order to accommodate all those UAVs and USVs, and when required.

7. I would not consider the smallish 122 metre long Belharra Frigate or want to discuss it (as that does not meet Singapore's requirements). There are some fairly nonsensical attempts to discuss 1st Flotilla and 3rd Flotilla fleet design, that contains unrealistic and speculative discussions via featured guest posts and comments, by Benjamin (who lays the ground work with links to actual speeches) and the rest of the gang, on the blog Submarine Matters:

3)Similar to the MRCV the RSN is still coy about details of this platform except of a Endurance 170LHD as shared by ST Marine as a possible export opportunity.
8. Look at Endurance 160 as the design base for the JMMS concept. It may grow bigger but what I really want is for it to be faster — which means more installed power to exceed the current maximum speed of 22 knots, as currently specified.

9. An effective ASW fleet requires more speed and I would suggest 24 to 26 knots (with an economic cruise speed of above 18 knots as base).
If we assume that Endurance 170 will be the selected platform for RSN JMMS, will the length of this platform too minimal towards F-35B requirements of 167meters long run way to take off?
10. To land in an emergency, more than adequate for the F-35B. To take-off with a meaningful combat load? The answer is no.

Q: Why would Singapore need such a large JMMS?​

11. More importantly, we need a faster JMMS, if it is to be effective as an ASW support platform — take a look at JMSDF ASW operations (as an aspirational example). I would ague this more important to the Singapore Navy. We badly need to grow the Seahawk fleet by another 6 to 9 helicopters in the 2030s — as the 6 MRCVs and the 2 JMMS need Seahawks (which I assume is 2 currently). And unless the NZDF decides on acquiring the Endurance 170, the base design that meets the SAF’s key requirements will reside in the 160 platform.
Or hypothetically, will the Endurance 170 tailored to extended length for RSN JMMS requirements? E.g extended length of 177.5 meters or 179.5 meters
12. Why do we want to increase or concentrate the risk? IMO, the Singapore Navy needs a much better ASW capability (as a risk mitigation measure). If a single Malaysian submarine sinks a large deck JMMS (that can carry significant numbers of F-35Bs), you not only lose the ship, you lose the fighter squadron.
4)What about the future new four purpose built new vessels to enhance MARSEC assets? Possibly a Fearless 75? Similar to Royal Navy of Oman?
13. It is possible that the 4 vessels supplied to the Royal Navy of Oman is a good starting point for discussion. I will return to this point at another time, as lunch beckons.
5)Will the RSAF set up another squadron of F-15SG? Possibly an enhanced platform with cue from F-15 EX?
14. No. I was clear that the F-35B was the much, much preferred choice. The block 4, F-35B to be acquired by Singapore from 2026 onwards, has five basic missions:

(i) air superiority, or offensive and defensive counterair;​

(ii) EW and suppression of enemy air defences (also known as SEAD);​

(iii) close air support;​

(iv) strategic attack against high-value strategic and mobile targets; and​

(v) extended surface warfare for maritime surveillance, identification and targeting.​

My prior response on the slim possibility for another squadron of F-15SG was to address a 0.1% chance specific event that is the subject of another question.
Awaiting opinions from our forum experts on the above,thanks!
15. Thanks for tolerating my incoherent thoughts.
 
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OPSSG

Super Moderator
Staff member
More incoherent thoughts part 2
1. Some have validly speculated that this vessel will be based in the Fearless 75 design (like the four 75m patrol vessels supplied to the Oman Navy, namely RNOV Al-Seeb, RNOV Shinas, RNOV Sadh and RNOV Khassab). From the picture, I suspect it might have the length of the LMVs but the top of the Al-Ofouq class.

2. The Al-Ofouq class is powered by 2 x MTU 20V 8000 M91 and has a top speed of 25 knots. The hull form of the Independence class vessels is powered by 4 × MTU 20V 4000 M93L and has a top speed of 27 knots — a design that is faster than the older, less capable Fearless 75 design, while being more economical to run. Therefore, I would pick the Independence class hull form for this 2nd flotilla vessel — for parts commonality with the existing 8 LMVs.

3. For the Singapore Navy, Maritime security remains crucial, despite pandemic. More details on plans to restructure the Maritime Security Task Force (MSTF) was announced, with assets under the Maritime Security (MARSEC) Command to be reorganized into three flotillas tasked with specialized roles.
4. The 6th flotilla’s USVs will be crucial to the Singapore’s mine counter-measures (with a tested concept of operations using a pair of 16 m Venus USVs as a shallow water mine counter-measure solution) and shallow water ASW capabilities — with the intent that some of these USVs will manned by conscripts and naval reserves.
(a) The VENUS series of Singapore built USVs range from the 5.5 ton VENUS 9 with a payload capacity of 2.5 ton over the 11 ton VENUS 11 with a payload of 4.5 ton, to the 26 ton VENUS 16 with a 10 ton payload capacity.​
(b) The VENUS 16 Mine Countermeasure concept, where one VENUS 16 is fitted with a Towed Synthetic Aperture Sonar (TSAS) to conduct underwater scans to detect and classify mines, while another VENUS 16 embarks the ECA K-STER Expendable Mine Disposal Systems (EMDS) to carry out the mine detection and neutralisation to conduct mine disposals. Both versions feature autonomous collision avoidance and Satcom systems to cancel any blind spots caused by geographical and shipping reasons. This waterjet-propelled USV can attain speeds in excess of 30 kn and has an endurance of up to 36 hours. The craft is controlled by a 2-person crew in a 20 ft TEU container that can be located either ashore or deployed from a ship.​

5. In late 2017, the Singapore Navy concluded a series of shipborne trials for the Schiebel S-100 Camcopter rotor-winged unmanned aerial system (UAS) on one of its LMVs. The trials, which involved a heavy fuel variant of the UAS, took place over several months on the LMV programme’s second-of-class, RSS Sovereignty (16). Among objectives of the Camcopter trials include the establishment of basic rotor-wing UAV operating envelopes and parameters, under various operational scenarios including at varying speed and sea states, for the LMV platform. The S-100 Camcopter has a 6 hour endurance with a small 34 kg (75 lbs) payload.

6. I am just wondering if larger unmanned helicopters like the MQ-8C Firescout would be better operated by the RSAF or by the 6th flotilla. Thus far, Northrop Grumman has delivered 32 of 38 MQ-8Cs to the US Navy —Japan could be the first export customer of the MQ-8C. All of the MQ-8C UAS will be equipped with the AN/ZPY-8 radar with 240-degree field of view and an achieved flight time of 11 hours (with more than an hour of fuel in reserve). The 11 hour flight was part of a series of capability-based tests used by the US Navy to validate their concept of operations and previously tested performance parameters. Having achieved initial operational capability in June 2019, the MQ-8C is scheduled for its first deployment in 2020.
 
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Lone Ranger

New Member
2)Till now, there have been no information if the tender for the RSN MRCV had kick off.Personally, I’m unsure if the ST Marine Vanguard 130 will meet the MRCV optimum operational requirements as I’ve read an article with the author mentioning that it’s a cramped vessel and the author said that another possible candidate will be Naval Shipyard enhanced Belharra Frigate taking into consideration that they had set up an R&D lab in Singapore.
Beside ST Engineering Marine's Vanguard-130, there are also talks on offers from Damen (Crossover-131) and Saab-Kockums (stretched version of its Stealth Next Generation Multi-Mission Corvette) to RSN during IMDEX Asia 2019.

On Saab-Kockums' offering, a vessel with the length of 120m, it could be under size for MRCV's requirement. As for Damen's Crossover-131, it has an interesting design. It has 3 variants - XO 131C (combatant), XO 131A (amphibious) and XO 131T (transport). I do hope RSN find them interesting too and explore on their potential for MRCV.

I am just wondering if larger unmanned helicopters like the MQ-8C Firescout would be better operated by the RSAF or by the 6th flotilla.
On the MQ-8C Firescout vs Schiebel S-100 Camcopter, despite MQ-8C has a higher payload, speed and longer endurance compared to S-100 Camcopter, however I do believe Camcopter does has some advantages worth considering, like..
-smaller ship board footprint
-lower operating cost (fuel efficiency due to smaller size)
-Less observable (again due to smaller size)
-2 drones per system (redundancy)
-Lower Capex (full system @ $2million-2005 vs 1 drone @ $10million-2016)

Of course, the above comparison is only valid if a payload of 34-50kg is not a mission constraint.

I cut & paste both spec side by side for easy comparison.
 

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OPSSG

Super Moderator
Staff member
More incoherent thoughts part 3
On the MQ-8C Firescout vs Schiebel S-100 Camcopter, despite MQ-8C has a higher payload, speed and longer endurance compared to S-100 Camcopter, however I do believe Camcopter does has some advantages worth considering, like..
-smaller ship board footprint
-lower operating cost (fuel efficiency due to smaller size)
-Less observable (again due to smaller size)
-2 drones per system (redundancy)
-Lower Capex (full system @ $2million-2005 vs 1 drone @ $10million-2016)

Of course, the above comparison is only valid if a payload of 34-50kg is not a mission constraint.

I cut & paste both spec side by side for easy comparison.
7. Looking at the art of the possible (based on US studies), I believe the Singapore Navy will need to evaluate both types for different mission sets — the concept of operations and safety margins for operating the S-100 Camcopter is being evaluated and developed on the LMVs.
(a) The true competitor to the S-100 on the four LMVs (that do not support helicopter operations) in the 2030s is the future replacement for the Group 2 UAS, RQ-21.​
(b) The other four LMVs that can support helicopter operations are fitted with Aeronautical & General Instruments Limited’s Advanced Stabilised Glide Slope Indicator (ASGSI) at the rear of the ship’s superstructure to assist with helicopter landing operations. According to Lt. Col Chew Chun Chau, head of the LMV project office, in 2017, the Singapore Navy put the LMVs’ helicopter capabilities through trials using the S-70B Seahawk and Super Puma helicopters. These ASGSI equipped LMVs are an ideal lilly pad for a platoon of Group 4 helicopter type UAS (and launched from a mothership like the JMMS) — where the LMVs are used to rearm and refuel them in forward naval and littoral operations.​
8. The US Navy and US Marine Corps operate a fixed-wing RQ-21 Blackjack UAS from ships using a pressurized air catapult and a “Skyhook” recovery system, and they also operate the MQ-8 Fire Scout rotary-wing UAS:
(a) the RQ-21 is a Group 2 UAS (with the current endurance of 16+ hours, depending on payload); and​
(b) the MQ-8 is a Group 4 UAS (with an endurance of 11+ hours is much more costly to operate and currently lack certain mission packages, as the technology needs to be matured over the late 2020s).​

9. A platoon or section of larger as a Group 4 UAS (is a poor man’s helicopter based alternative to an AWAC for a sea base) would be deployed from hangers and UAS control centres on larger vessels like the JMMS or MRCV. In Mar 2020, Deputy Commandant of the US Marine Corps for Aviation Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder told USNI News after a hearing that it became clear as the service moved forward with the program that it couldn’t get the endurance it needed for high-end missions like airborne early warning and communications relay with the kind of air vehicle design that would be able to launch vertically off a ship’s helicopter deck.

10. As for the shipboard variant of the US Marines’ upcoming program, “it’s probably RQ-21-plus or some sort of Group 3 UAS, Group 4 UAS capability, but not a larger (Group 5) air vehicle that does everything,” Lt. Gen. Rudder said.
(a) I think it is worth watching the Group 2 to 4 UAS trials being conducted by the US Marines. Some of these capabilities, when they are matured will need to be adopted by the SAF’s 21st division or the RSAF. I can imagine a block force or a company sized force from 7SIB being resupplied by a Group 4 helicopter based UAS (launched from a Singapore Navy ship, for littoral dominance in a scenario outlined in paragraphs 11 and 12 below). A Group 4 helicopter based UAS can also serve as a forward scout for the Apache providing force protection, in a scenario where ROEs prevent the SAF from shooting unless fired upon.​
(b) In mid-Aug 2020, China has fired an array of missiles near the Paracel Islands, clearly intended to shape the attitudes and actions of the US and ASEAN. China says it doesn’t need to recognize international law — because it doesn’t think it had enough influence in shaping its regional security environment.​
(c) A key geopolitical event, occurred in 1995 from July 21 to 26 — along a long string of seemingly unrelated prior events — the equivalent of a geopolitical earthquake. That 1995 event was not even triggered by China. For the PLA, this was a never again moment, where it was forced to back down.​
(d) Having understood this July 1995 event, Singapore decided to begin building the Formidable Class in 2002. The Next Fighter Replacement competition in 2003-2005 that was won by Boeing’s F-15SG, demonstrated a sense of urgency by MINDEF (that was not generally understood at that time). In fact, the trend line of PRC defence spending was clear even so far back — which will affect the region. It is important to note that Singapore’s capability development is not directed by a China threat. Rather, it is planning to manage a general increase in regional defence spending.​
(e) The US Naval Postgraduate School has released an unclassified wargame, “Crisis in the South Pacific,” which allows a notional Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF) commander to design a tailored force and operate in a resource-constrained environment. In contrast to traditional force-on-force wargames, the player’s focus is to improve U.S. perceptions in the host nation while shaping the environment to support a future mission tasking. In this regard, the player has no direct ability to attrite enemy forces and must carefully plan each move, as every action increases the overall force signature and the likelihood that the enemy will target and successfully strike highly-visibility units.​
11. 7SIB and the Army Deployment Force (ADF), will have similar Phase Zero planning concerns. When Singaporean troops are deployed on the future JMMS or MRCVs to conduct a HADR mission (eg. in Cambodia, the Southern Philippines, or Myanmar) or in an INTERFET style Chapter 7 multinational UN peacemaking operations (see: ‘Strength in Diversity: The Combined Naval Role in Operation STABILISE’) in the Southern Philippines (eg. the 2013 Zamboanga City crisis and the 2017 Battle of Marawi) or in Sabah (eg. the 2013 Lahad Datu incursion) — it is possible that there will be an influence battle for host nation stakeholder influence against possible third party hostility (eg. intra-ASEAN or external hostility), to an UN sanctioned intervention.

12. The military term of art for Phase Zero planning consists of those things done (i) to make an intervention unnecessary in the first place or (ii) failing that, to ensure that everything is poised for a successful campaign (Phases One to X) to return the situation to Phase Zero as quickly as possible.

13. In the battlefield or deployment ground of the future (in the late 2030s), nimble and affordable Group 2 to 3 UAS, at a systems level, are intended to draw fire from enemy air defence systems and may be controlled by H225Ms, Apaches, Seahawks or CH-47F Chinooks (depending on mission requirements) that are launched from a Singaporean sea base. We can already see this action-reaction dynamic in Ukraine — where a Russian UAV appearance will mean an artillery barrage in on Ukrainian positions in less than a minute.

14. Singapore’s ADF is an all professional force and it needs to take some risk to fight our way in, as part of a coalition (with like minded countries like Australia, NZ and other ASEAN countries), to deliver aid in troubled peace HADR scenario or to separate warning parties in an enforced peace making missions (due to the partial collapse of any ASEAN nation).

15. Supported by Singapore Navy ships from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd flotillas — it is likely that Singapore’s ADF is the force of choice to be deployed in a coalition with foreign diplomats, a large contingent of policemen from different countries and international aid workers in a complex situation. The only issue is that it is too small, in size, at only one evergreen battalion.
 
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OPSSG

Super Moderator
Staff member
In any analysis of Singapore’s defence industrial base’s growth trajectory, asking the correct questions is as important to seeking to answers to questions.
Q1: Why is it important for Singapore to be a booster rocket motor supplier for Blue Spear (the next gen Israeli and Singapore anti-ship missile)?

Ans: Noteworthy that the JV is with ST Land Systems (formerly ST Kinetics). This is likely because the ammunition and missile design and manufacture knowhow is possessed by this division. They have previously licenced produced Spike ATGMs and Igla SAMs. The core technology used to manufacture solid rocket motors in Blue Spear can also be applied to develop anti-tank missiles, short ranged loitering munitions, artillery rockets (replacement HIMARS rockets), medium range surface-to-surface missiles like the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) and even for certain SAM systems. While Singapore will continue to buy from foreign suppliers these systems, having certain core technologies reduces embargo risk.

Q2: Who is the global booster rocket motor supplier for ST Engineering (land systems) to benchmark against?

Ans: Nammo, who designs and manufactures rocket motors in the following programs:
  • AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile)
  • ESSM (Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile) – Raytheon
  • IRIS-T (Air to Air Missile with TVC) – Diehl BGT Defence
  • IRIS-T SL (Surface Lauch IRIS-T with TVC) – Diehl BGT Defence
  • EXOCET MM40 B3 Booster (Anti-Ship Missile with TVC) - MBDA
  • Sidewinder AIM-9L (Air to Air Missile) – Diehl BGT Defence
  • Penguin MK2 Boost & Sustain Motor Anti Ship Missiles) - Kongsberg
  • NSM Booster (Naval Strike Missile) - Kongsberg
  • IDAS (Interactive Defence & Attack for Submarines) – Diehl BGT Defence
  • ARIANE 5 (Separation & Acceleration Boosters) – Airbus DS
  • Hybrid Rocket Motors & Monopropellant Thrusters for Space - ESA
Q3: Is ST Engineering’s goal to be like Nammo?

Ans: No, Singapore should seek to grow specific niches, with export potential, to augment Singapore’s own domestic weapons manufacturing needs.

Q4: Where are some of the testing locations for Singapore made boosters or missiles?

Ans: Australia, South Africa and in 2020 onwards, in India.
(a) On 20 Nov 2019, India’s Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh and his Singapore counterpart Dr Ng Eng Hen witnessed the exchange of the Letter of Intent Letter of Intent to conclude a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate the use of Chandipur Integrated Test Range by the Singapore defence establishment and both Ministers commended the progress in defence technology collaboration. Rajnath Singh also offered setting up of a Joint Test Facilities under the Defence Testing Infrastructure Scheme of India. Dr Ng agreed to explore opportunities for joint collaboration, including in the two Defence Industrial Corridors (DICs), in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. The Ministers also agreed to explore cooperation in the fields of Artificial Intelligence, Geo-Spatial Data Sharing and Cyber Security.​
(b) Likewise Australia and Singapore have signed a range of MOUs to enhance defence cooperation, including on personnel exchanges, military intelligence cooperation and defence science and technology. Under a 10 year MOU valid till 2025, the two countries undertake collaborative research, conduct joint trials, work on systems engineering and integration, exchange equipment and personnel, develop new capabilities and improve methods of operations.​
 
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