RSAF acquires Orbiter 4 UAV, RSN's Formidable-class frigates to be upgraded

The Close Range UAV (CR-UAV)  has been acquired by the Singapore Armed Forces (PHOTO: Ministry of Defence)
The Close Range UAV (CR-UAV) has been acquired by the Singapore Armed Forces (PHOTO: Ministry of Defence)

SINGAPORE — The Orbiter 4 Close-Range Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (CR-UAV) has been acquired by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), said the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) on Wednesday (2 March).

With its smaller size, capable sensor and increased portability, the CR-UAV will provide the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and security forces with improved ground situational awareness.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen announced the acquisition during his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate on Wednesday.

According to Mindef, it can be employed independently or collaboratively with the existing fleet of larger UAVs for scanning of the battlefield from different altitudes, providing both a bird’s eye view of the battlefield from a higher altitude and conducting in-depth surveillance of specific areas from a lower altitude.

Manufactured by Israel-based drone specialist Aeronautics Group, the CR-UAV can operate within a wide range of operating environments, including urbanised and confined areas, to support security operations such as counter-terrorism and peacetime contingencies.

It also enhances operational flexibility with its lower logistical footprint, runway independence, and ability to be deployed and set up in a shorter span of time.

Upgrading frigates

Separately, the six Formidable-class frigates of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) will be given mid-life upgrades after almost two decades of service.

"Since the commissioning of the first frigate in 2007, the frigates have pushed the operating envelope for the RSN across all dimensions – air, surface and underwater – in the maritime domain," said Mindef.

The frigates will be given an enhanced command and control system via advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and improved sensors. This will enable the frigates to detect and react faster to potential threats.

Upgrades will also be made to the frigates’ weapons and communication systems. Their weapon systems will be upgraded to be more lethal and accurate, while the ships’ communication systems will be refreshed to increase the networking capacity of the frigates with the rest of the SAF.

The Fleet Management System will be incorporated into the upgraded frigates. Information collected on the ships’ platform and combat systems health status will be collated and used for pre-emptive purposes, to enhance the frigates' operational readiness.

The upgrades will be done in close collaboration with the Defence Science and Technology Agency as well as DSO National Laboratories.

"So after the upgrade, the frigates’ combat capabilities will increase and be equipped with better combat management, communication systems, weapon systems, along with improved maintenance processes," said Dr Ng.

"Basically, they use less, achieve more."

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