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The Singaporean Hunter AFV Is A Real Killer

August 13, 2019


Last week’s National Day Parade (NDP) in Singapore featured a lavish spectacle that paid tribute to the armed forces, considered the best equipped among ASEAN militaries. The hardware that rolled in Padang on August 9 could match, or in some cases overmatch, the arsenals of much larger states. But in a ceremony imbued with highlights a notable detail was a very public showing for the Hunter Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV).

Unveiled on June 11 to mark the army’s 50th anniversary, the Hunter AFV is a troop carrier (seating eight soldiers) mounting considerable firepower. During the NDP, in fact, the formation of Hunter AFV’s involved revealed their most lethal weapons–top attack missiles!

Two distinct suites elevates the Hunter AFV above the older generation of infantry fighting vehicles such as the AMX-10P, the M2 Bradley, and the BMP-2. First is its armor protection, with the entire hull encased in modular panels. The exact ballistic strength they can withstand is unknown although it’s safe to assume at least .50 caliber or 12.7 mm rounds won’t compromise the Hunter AFV’s exterior. The second is the Hunter AFV’s unmanned turret, also heavily protected, that combines a 30 mm cannon and a light machine gun with a concealed missile launcher. It was during the NDP parade when the Hunter AFV’s missiles were shown. These are located in an elevating module at the back of the turret.

Via Singapore media.

The device to the left of the missile launcher, by the way, is a panoramic sight on a pivoting 360 degree stand. This allows a crew member such as the vehicle’s commander to observe their surroundings under any conditions and find targets. Another day/night camera is located next to the 30 mm primary weapon. As for the missiles, judging by the blue tint on their lens, these are non-line-of-sight (NLOS) munitions like the Israeli Spike-MR or LR manufactured by Rafael. The Spike is the most successful top attack missile in use today and the Singapore Army has no doubt stockpiled a large number of these.

The Spike-LR II currently sold by Rafael boasts a range of 5.5 kilometers as a vehicle-based weapon. (The “aerial launch” variant manages an astounding 10 km.) The missile’s product literature reveals the operator can choose between three firing modes when targeting with the Spike-LR II. These are fire and forget, where the missile flies a top attack trajectory once locked; fire and observe or “man in the loop,” which allows the operator to “paint” the target before and during the missile launch; and then fire to target coordinates, or when navigation data is programmed to the missile and it does the rest.

Whether the Hunter AFV has an internal magazine for additional Spike missiles hasn’t been revealed. But just two missiles are able to wreak a lot of damage. With a tandem HEAT warhead, for example, a direct hit on a main battle tank will likely cripple it or penetrate the magazine, the latter triggering a catastrophic explosion. To be clear, any second and third-generation tank without an active protection system (APS) to detect an incoming projectile is at the mercy of the Hunter AFV.

Along with the BelRex MRAP, the Bionix 25, the Bronco all terrain vehicle (ATV), and the Terrex 8×8 APC, the Hunter AFV fulfills the army’s needs for a diverse mechanized fleet that suits both conventional and high intensity urban warfare. Of course, this also means the M113’s once prized for their longevity get a much deserved retirement. Singapore’s defense ministry remains mum on the size of the Hunter’s future role but at the very least an entire brigade’s worth (100 to 150 vehicles) could be produced in the 2020s.

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