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RSAF combines sensors, shooters and AI in ‘state-of-the-art’ system to higher defend Singapore’s airspace


SINGAPORE: The time period “synthetic intelligence” could be mystifying, however on the display earlier than us, the image is simple: A yellow diamond represents Singapore and a number of inexperienced specks – Singapore’s air defence belongings – are contained inside. 

A yellow icon seems exterior the diamond and all of a sudden turns pink. It’s shifting in direction of Singapore and the system has recognized it as an enemy fighter jet. 

Republic of Singapore Air Drive (RSAF) commanders choose the pink goal and a small sq. routinely seems beside it, recommending that the fighter jet is greatest countered with the Aster 30, a remotely managed anti-aircraft missile launcher with a variety of 70km.

When commanders give the go-ahead to make use of that weapon, a blue line shoots out of one of many inexperienced icons, predicting the missile trajectory. This ensures no pleasant planes are within the line of fireplace.

After commanders launch the missile, the blue line will get shorter and shorter, till the goal disappears.

The enemy has been neutralised.

What reporters witnessed on Thursday (Dec 17) was an instance of how the fight administration system in RSAF’s Island Air Defence (IAD) system makes use of synthetic intelligence to allow commanders to make faster and simpler selections when defending Singapore’s airspace. 

The demonstration was held at Lim Chu Kang Camp 2. 

RSAF Island Air Defence Operations Demonstration 04

RSAF operators put together the Aster 30, which is beside an RBS 70 system. (Picture: Jeremy Lengthy)

The IAD system additionally combines this software program with RSAF’s sensors and shooters – a variety of radars, anti-air rockets and fighter plane – to permit the RSAF to see extra and make higher sense of all that data on a single image.

Beforehand, particular person weapon platforms would use their very own sensors, limiting what they may see. With the IAD system, the platforms and radars can “discuss” with one another, providing commanders a extra full but straightforward to grasp situational image.

The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) mentioned in a information launch on Thursday that the IAD system additionally reduces the cognitive load on operators and prevents a single level of failure. Which means if one weapon platform is taken out, the system can routinely advocate one other platform to take over.

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Air Defence Group commander Colonel Loh Woon Liang addressing the media on Dec 17, 2020. (Picture: Jeremy Lengthy)

“We don’t depend on particular person capabilities (however as a substitute) on the energy of a number of programs,” mentioned Colonel (COL) Loh Woon Liang, commander of the Air Defence Group.

“It permits us to boost the robustness of the networked system slightly than to take a look at a number of factors in a single defence system. And for a rustic like Singapore, it’s actually essential to have the ability to try this.”

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Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen chatting with reporters on Dec 17, 2020. (Picture: Jeremy Lengthy)

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen reiterated on Thursday that Singapore’s small dimension and extremely dense inhabitants means it’ll “all the time be susceptible” to threats from the air.

In 2016, six Indonesian militants plotted to fireplace a rocket at Marina Bay from Batam. In 2002, radicalised people deliberate to hijack a airplane and crash it into Changi Airport.

“These threats are evolving, whether or not they’re longer-range munitions … or non-traditional, from terrorist assaults – issues you should purchase on the darkish net,” mentioned Dr Ng after being briefed on the newest model of the IAD system, which in August built-in the Aster 30.

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The RSAF’s Island Air Defence system includes a fight administration system and a variety of sensors and shooters. (Infographic: MINDEF)

The IAD system, conceptualised in 2006, includes numerous ground-based and airborne radars to detect targets at numerous ranges and altitudes, in addition to completely different weapon platforms to take down missiles, drones and fighter plane.

The system has been built-in with newer platforms and improved through the years, with Dr Ng saying it’ll serve Singapore “for the following few many years”.

READ: Singapore ‘quite confident’ of detecting and neutralising drones used in Saudi attacks: Ng Eng Hen

“Our present programs are state-of-the-art, no less than in opposition to munitions which might be in the marketplace at subsonic or supersonic (capabilities),” he added.

“Should you’re speaking about hypersonic missiles, then only a few militaries have capabilities to answer (that). However that’s possibly 20 or 30 years down the road.”


As an example, the Aster 30 missile system is able to partaking a number of threats concurrently, together with fighter plane, helicopters, drones and precision-guided missiles.

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Dr Ng was briefed on the capabilities of the Aster 30, presently in a raised place. (Picture: Jeremy Lengthy)

The Floor-to-Air Python-5 and Derby-Air Defence System (SPYDER) is one other system with anti-aircraft and anti-munition capabilities. Its infrared and laser-guided missiles have an efficient interception vary of 15km.

The RBS 70 system is moveable air defence missile system with a variety of as much as 8km. It may be deployed in each mounted and dismounted configurations for extra operational flexibility, MINDEF mentioned.


On the subject of sensors, the RSAF makes use of the Multi-Mission Radar with an efficient detection vary of as much as 350km and 100km for air surveillance and hostile weapon finding respectively.

The FPS 117 radar is one other high-precision air defence radar with an efficient detection vary of as much as 463km.

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The Multi-Mission Radar has  an efficient detection vary of as much as 350km and 100km for air surveillance and hostile weapon finding respectively. (Picture: Jeremy Lengthy)

For low-level surveillance, the RSAF additionally has the System for Hybrid Interceptor Information of Recognised Air (SHIKRA) cell radar and Agile A number of Beam (AMB) radar, with a variety of as much as 100km and 60km respectively.

The latter detects low-flying and slower-moving targets like helicopters, MINDEF mentioned.

Given Singapore’s low-lying geographical options, the RSAF additionally operates airborne radars just like the Aerostat and Gulfstream 550 – Airborne Early Warning (G550-AEW).

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The Aerostat supplies 24/7 low-level radar protection. (Picture: Jeremy Lengthy)

The Aerostat is a tethered balloon system that operates at 600m within the sky to get a transparent line of sight over Singapore’s airspace and seaspace. It has an efficient detection vary of as much as 200km.

The G550-AEW has a sophisticated Lively Electronically Scanned Array radar with an efficient detection vary of greater than 370km. It supplies persistent, all-weather capacity to detect, establish and observe aerial threats, MINDEF mentioned.


The fight administration system, thought of the mind of the operation, was developed with the Defence Science and Know-how Company (DSTA), which has examined and validated its security and operational capabilities.

READ: Exercise Forging Sabre: Apache, fighter pilots get enemy data faster with help of AI

In a single simulation, the system dealt with as many as 16 targets, suggesting which ought to be handled first relying on how rapidly it might cross into Singapore airspace.

“It’s particularly essential in at the moment’s context when the threats come at you in a multitude and also you want choice assist programs,” COL Loh mentioned.

“It permits you to classify and prioritise which is probably the most harmful risk you need to cope with, and (then) to cope with all of them.”

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The SPYDER missile system has an efficient interception vary of as much as 15km. (Picture: Jeremy Lengthy)

DSTA engineer and senior programme supervisor Teng Siang Loong mentioned the idea of a networked system, with the fight administration system in the midst of it, makes it extra resilient.

“Within the earlier standalone system, if any tools turns into unavailable, that specific system won’t be able to carry out its mission successfully,” he mentioned.

“With the fight community, we’re capable of permit a number of weapons and sensors to function in an optimised pool of assets.

“Within the occasion that one of many tools turns into unavailable, the following one will have the ability to undertake the duty.”

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Third Warrant Officer Thiyagaraj Subramaniam with the Aster 30. (Picture: Jeremy Lengthy)

Third Warrant Officer Thiyagaraj Subramaniam, 30, an air defence programs specialist who operates the Aster 30, mentioned the IAD system permits him to get one of the best out of his platform.

“It provides confidence to the bottom operators that having all these programs and built-in belongings means the mission which I’m part of will certainly succeed,” he mentioned.


However the RSAF isn’t resting on its laurels.

To defend in opposition to always evolving navy know-how like drone swarms, COL Loh mentioned the RSAF and DSTA constantly take a look at the rising threats and capabilities on the market.

“We proceed to resume our capabilities and make enhancements to cope with them,” he mentioned.

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Dr Ng and Chief of Defence Drive Lieutenant-Common Melvyn Ong at a ceremony marking the completion of the Island Air Defence system’s newest part. (Picture: Jeremy Lengthy)

Dr Ng mentioned the present IAD system is “appropriate” with Singapore’s wants and risk evaluation, as he referred to as it a “vital enchancment” through the years.

“I feel Singaporeans can take consolation that we now have this technique up,” he added.

“It required steady effort, integration over 15 years, and whilst we now have completed this part, we’ll look in direction of the following part of the IAD system (amid) threats that aren’t solely on the horizon, however I’m certain can be developed through the years.”

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