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Singapore Army building Unmanned Watch Towers on Jurong Island

Singapore Army building Unmanned Watch Towers on Jurong Island

Speaking during the Defence Committee of Supply (COS) Debate in the Singapore Parliament on 2 March, Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen revealed that the Army will build Unmanned Towers to watch over Jurong Island and the surrounding waters. Jurong Island is a petrochemical, petroleum and natural gas hub in Singapore, linked to the mainland by a 2.3-km causeway.

Since 2001, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has been conducting security operations at key installations such as Changi Airport, Jurong Island and Sembawang Wharves to boost Singapore’s vigilance and defence against the threat of terrorism.

The SAF performs coastal surveillance at Jurong Island to detect any intrusion from the sea through the deployment of servicemen on observation towers located on the Island.

Coastal surveillance operations from the observation towers can be challenging for servicemen due to the wide area of coverage and low ambient light conditions in the night and during the day-night transition. Advanced sensor systems in the Unmanned Watch Tower (UWT) will help to overcome these challenges.

The sensor systems comprise multiple high-resolution low-light Electro-Optical Cameras to cover a wide surveillance area, centralised remote monitoring of multiple camera systems, and video analytics for the automatic detection of targets. The UWT is also equipped with a long-range acoustic device to warn off intruders.

Engineers from the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) integrated the various surveillance and sensor feeds so that they can be monitored remotely at the command centre. In addition, the DSO National Laboratories designed and built the UWT with the video analytics for target detection.

The first UWT is expected to be operational by March 2018, and two additional systems will be deployed by September 2018. Being a redeployable system, the UWT can be deployed anywhere on-demand to enhance the SAF’s surveillance capability for homeland security operations.

The UWT will enhance the SAF’s coastal surveillance capabilities at Jurong Island in both day and night conditions, while optimising manpower resources.

It is expected to reduce the number of soldiers required for these operations at Jurong Island by up to 30%. Additionally, the technology and automation fielded in the UWT allows servicemen who were previously not suited to be Security Troopers, to now be eligible to be deployed as Security Troopers for homeland security operations at Jurong Island.

The SAF works closely with relevant agencies such as the Police Coast Guard (PCG) to conduct coastal surveillance operations to ensure the security of key installations such as Jurong Island. The SAF shares information provided by the UWT system, such as the position, course and speed of the potential threats, with the PCG to enhance joint coordination efforts between both agencies.

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