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Defence Technology Prize winners include systems focused on integration and networked architecture

Representation of the Island Air Defence system at the SGDefence Exhibition (4th-8th November)

The Defence Technology Prizes for 2016 (DTP) will be awarded on the 8th of November by the Minister for Defence to scientists and engineers in recognition of their contributions in strengthening Singapore’s defence capabilities. The awards are given by the Singapore Ministry of Defence (MINDEF).

Two individuals and four teams were selected by a judging panel, chaired by MINDEF's Chief Defence Scientist, Mr. Quek Gim Pew, for this year’s awards.

The two projects discussed below dealt with vastly different challenges,but both are related to integration and developing networked capabilities and they enable collation of information from multiple sources, real-time processing and seamless dissemination, facilitating decision-making. Both also used open standard protocols, providing flexibility to incorporate news sensors or weapons going forward.

The Island Air Defence (IAD) Team From DSTA and the Republic of Singapore Air Force was one of the winners for the DTP Team (Engineering Award).

Singapore is small and densely populated, with a lack of strategic depth. The previous air defence systems were platform-centric, with dedicated sensors and decentralised control. IAD is network-centric with networked sensors and weapons, controlled in a centralised manner.

Components of air defence systems, sensors, radars, communication equipment, all being the best in in their own class, might be acquired from different countries and vendors and might have different standards. The challenge is to integrate them into one system.

 IAD represents a first-of-its-kind fully networked, integrated system, designed and developed indigenously to meet the unique operational requirements of the SAF. IAD features smart decision support systems, helping to optimise utilisation of equipment and manpower and providing enhanced strike effectiveness. It enables seamless dissemination of time-critical information to all parties within the entire air defence system and centralised resources ensure continued capability even if some of the assets become unavailable.

IAD’s open and internationally accepted standards provide flexibility for adding new sensors and weapons in the future and will help synergise integration efforts for weapons and sensors acquired from various sources.

The IAD team also drove the development of systems-of-systems (SoS) level methodologies in safety analysis, verification and validation, to ensure that the system would function correctly under various operational scenarios. This was necessary given the complexity of the system. Issues were identified and resolved early in the project, minimising downstream risks.

Mr. Mui Whye Kee, Director of C41 (Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence) Development at Defence Science & Technology Agency (DSTA) is one of the DTP Individual (Engineering) Award winners. He made significant contributions to the development of a Intelligence and Strike Command and Control (C2) capabilities for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

The C2 system monitors, plans, directs and coordinates sensors,weapons, and forces providing a comprehensive security picture, so that they can work together as a single unit to fulfill the required mission objectives.

 It collates data from various sensors in the battlefield, then processes and sends the data back to the command post for decision-making in real time. It enables exploration of Time Critical Targeting, seeding the development of Integrated Strike capability.

The key to such seamless integration for real time information sharing is a flexible interface using open standard protocols.

The future of C2 will be driven by the need to counter new threats in the domain of cyber information warfare and terrorism, factoring in limited manpower resources.

Mr. Mui also played an instrumental role in the establishment of the SAF Enterprise Geographic Information System, which provides commanders with information about the terrain.

Mr. Quek (above left) cautioned, “Networks present both a strength and a weakness. Because it also means that any assets can be attacked through the network. While we will continue to see how we can better network our resources, we will pay a lot more attention on how we secure our network.”

Mr. Quek also said that moving ahead there will be a lot more intelligence that can be extracted out of already existing systems. It is not about having the most powerful systems. The key is to interpret the data. For making sense of the deluge of data, Artificial Intelligence (AI) might play a critical role going forward.

The other winners were Mr. Chan Hian Liam from DSO National Laboratories (Singapore’s national defence R&D organisation) for his work on surveillance technologies in the Individual Engineering category, the Advanced Electronics Sensor R&D Team from DSO National Laboratories and the Hardware Assurance Team from Temasek Laboratories at Nanyang Technological University in DTP Team (R&D) category and the Littoral Mission Vessel Integrated Project Management Team from DSTA and the Republic of Singapore Navy in the DTP Team (Engineering) category.

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