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The Singapore Army Is Getting Deadly New Vehicles

March 12, 2019

As part of the city state’s modernization plans for its armed forces three new vehicle types are expected to enter service by the mid-2020s. These are the Next-Gen Armored Fighting Vehicle, a truck mounted self-propelled howitzer, and an armored tracked carrier. Each of these programs are in various stages of completion with the NG AFV scheduled for delivery later this year. The NG AFV is the most advanced infantry fighting vehicle ever developed in Southeast Asia. The Singapore Army wants it to replace their dated M113 Ultra APCs that have inadequate armor and weaponry, the latter being a single 20mm cannon.

The Singapore Army still maintains a sizable fleet of several hundred M113A1/A2 APCs. These are augmented by 500 Bionix IFVs together with a small number of the Terrex wheeled modular APC. But diversity is the name of the game in today’s battlespace and as the Singapore Army embraces the Terrex 2/3 and the Belrex MRAP for its asymmetric/urban warfare operations, the NG AFV is its heaviest mechanized combatant that isn’t a tank. The state-owned military-industrial company ST Engineering did unveil a light tank prototype based on the hull of the NG AFV supporting an unmanned turret with a 105mm gun. This is a clear sign of where the concept for a modular tracked vehicle is heading; aside from the army’s prized Leopard 2SG main battle tanks, there’s ample room in its order of battle for less cumbersome alternatives.

Via Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen / MINDEF.

Each NG AFV carries eight soldiers, weighs 29 tons, and manages a top speed of 70 kilometers per hour. The main armament is a 30mm cannon matched with a coaxial machine gun. The NG AFV’s turret, which is based on an Israeli design, has a compartment for two top attack missiles that can knock out enemy tanks and hardened structures. Cameras around its hull give the crew optimal visibility from inside the vehicle. Whether the NG AFV is getting an active protection system to defeat incoming projectiles hasn’t been determined. These characteristics earn it a place alongside similar efforts by China, Israel, Russia, and Turkey to produce battle taxis with lots of armor and impressive weapons.

Another priority of the ground forces is a yet unnamed “Next-Gen Howitzer.” Judging by an infographic shared by Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen on social media, this forthcoming artillery piece is another domestic program that subscribes to the current trend where a 155mm howitzer is mounted on a truck bed. Once again, Singapore will be the first country in the region to develop its own mobile artillery that complements the Primus 155mm self-propelled howitzer. There’s also a bit of catching up involved, since the armies of Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam have adopted truck howitzers while the Philippines just ordered a single battery of the ATMOS from Israel. Vietnam in particular harnessed its own resources by combing a 105mm M101 howitzer and a Ural truck rather than acquiring a foreign system.

Last on the list is the “Next-Gen Armored Tracked Carrier” that’s meant to accompany the successful Bronco. The Singapore Army’s preference for twin unit tracked carriers arose from its deployments abroad, where the army trains alongside allied counterparts because it lacks space at home. The Bronco has since proven indispensable for Singapore’s troops and garnered lots of attention from potential customers. Tracked carriers are superb logistical workhorses and have modular compartments that allows them to perform various roles; one example is the Safari Weapon Locating Radar. Like the Bronco, the new tracked carrier will have armament options such as heavy machine guns and mortars.

A lesser known requirement for the Singapore Army is an ill-defined drone program that seeks to equip ground units with portable UAVs. But details about this are scarce and MINDEF isn’t volunteering any news about it.

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