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The Singapore Army Really Hyped Its New Hunter AFV

June 15, 2019


When the Singapore Army marked its 50th birthday on June 11 the occasion served as the public debut for the branch’s upcoming battle taxi. The Ministry of Defense made no secret of its plans to field locally made vehicles for the army’s modernization. Foremost was a tracked fighting vehicle that could move a section of infantry and fight beside them. This is a different requirement from the Terrex wheeled APC, which is built on an Timoney chassis and is amphibious–the Terrex is supposed to move soldiers in and out of combat. The Hunter Armored Fighting Vehicle that appeared in Singei Gedong Camp on Tuesday is equipped to move and fight in any environment.

The Hunter AFV subscribes to a new trend in troop carriers where armor and firepower, rather than mobility and a small profile, are the prized features. Leading examples to date are Russia’s T-15 “heavy” infantry fighting vehicle and the ongoing efforts at upgrading Israel’s Namer APC with a main armament and an active protection system. Defense ministries are also fixated on the idea that a single type or “platform” can be rebuilt for multiple roles.

With the adoption of the Hunter AFV pushing the Singapore Army’s aging M113 APCs to retirement, the branch can boast having the most advanced troop carrier in the region. The larger ground forces of Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam maintain an assortment of APCs, none are even close to matching the Hunter AFV. Other than the obvious layers of armor around its hull and turret, the Hunter AFV has front, side, and rear cameras for 360 degree visibility and an oscillating EO/IR sight allows the commander and crew to see in the night time and find targets.

Broad visibility and detection is one of the strongest influences on armored warfare today. This is in line with the emergence of networked battlefields, where the instantaneous data received by fighters is as vital as the resources at their disposal. Besides its data tools, the weaponry on a single Hunter AFV is a force multiplier par excellence. The unmanned turret is armed with a 30mm cannon and a coaxial 7.62mm machine gun. The MINDEF and Singapore’s own media revealed there are two anti-tank missiles in the turret, but their launcher is unseen–they’re loaded in a collapsible panel that flips open when the missiles are ready to fire. If these are non-line of sight missiles like the Singapore Army’s Spike-MR’s they can hit targets as far as five kilometers away.

But the most awesome feature of the Hunter AFV is its crew compartment. Behind the driver is the commander and gunner side-by-side, facing a wall of touchscreens. This offers the crew a helpful interface for not just running the vehicle but monitoring its performance and the risks they face. The likelihood of urban combat demands the Singapore Army have vehicles able to survive being struck from any direction. Soldiers enter the Hunter AFV from a hydraulic ramp in the rear. The Hunter AFV seats eight dismounts who are able to view their surroundings using the external cameras on the hull; gone are the viewing slits and gun ports that were universal to APCs in the 1970s and 1980s.

ST Engineering is responsible for the production of the Hunter AFV and there are still no plans if new variants are rolling out soon. The Singapore Army have a long tradition of fielding light tanks. Before the arrival of the Leopard 2SG, ex-Israeli AMX-13’s were the most powerful combat vehicles at the army’s disposal. Now that locally made weapon systems are so cutting edge, the Hunter AFV with a 105mm gun, tandem 35mm cannons, or extreme-range surface to-air and surface-to-surface missiles aren’t hard to imagine on it. In fact, South Korea’s K21 IFV was spun off to these exact variants.

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