March 7, 2021

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Drone technology as a focus for the Singapore Air Force

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) is closely following developments in drone technology and understanding of new concepts to adopt them and achieve the intended outcomes.

RSAF’s existing unmanned aerial vehicles are soon coming to the end of their cycle. The Chief of Air Force, Major-General Kelvin Khong, explained that this is a result of its shorter lifespan as compared to the manned vehicles.

The RSAF presently operates the Hermes 450, since 2007, and the Heron 1 UAVs, since 2012. UAVs play an integral part in the RSAF, providing air intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.

These vehicles are also able to integrate with other SAF vehicles, such as fighter aircraft and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (Himars). Precise fire-powering can also be achieved with this, even when the enemy is attempting to hide.

With UAVs growing smaller in size, they are in turn lasting longer. They can be paired together with bigger UAVs, as a result of their smaller size, and be positioned at closer proximity to the enemy while staying hidden.

The UAVs also play a big role in homeland security operations for providing crucial intelligence to the forces on the ground during events such as the National Day Parade.

Maj-Gen Khong stressed that the RSAF should grow to become multi-faceted. He said that that the Air Force has to also grow its capabilities in data analytics and artificial intelligence.

The future of air combat is to change to one where the number of aircraft and the incorporation of technologies are necessary for being a strong force.

It is also imperative that the RSAF works closely together with other defence-technology agencies to allow for the use of a combination of capabilities across various domains.

RSAF is one of the government bodies which is constantly looking into developing and incorporating newer technologies to improve its capabilities for protecting the people. Unmanned vehicle technology has also been adopted by other defence agencies as well.

An example of this would include the use of unmanned vehicles by the Singapore Police Force (SPF).

MATAR (Multipurpose All-Terrain Autonomous Robot) possesses video analytic capabilities, conducts patrols autonomously and detects audio anomalies.

As a robot, it allows for greater efficiency as it will never encounter feeling fatigue or replicate the human error. It provides more support by spanning across larger areas.

The main purpose of MATAR is to ensure that Singapore is always kept safe and secure. It has already been employed by the SPF at National Day Parades.

MATAR has had a recent upgrade of holding Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), hence back to labs for analysis.

The SPF has been deploying UAVs on-site and conducting trials on them for enforcement, traffic management and crowd monitoring.

These vehicles provide a huge advantage as they are highly mobile and versatile, thus being able to perform functions more efficiently.

Announcements will be made in time on the air force’s plan of action for renewing the air force’s drone capability.

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