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    Mar 07, 2014

    Mindef outlines vision of SAF in 2030

    THE Singapore Armed Forces of the future will be a highly connected unit, with soldiers from the air, sea and land forces able to jointly target threats and orchestrate responses.

    This was the vision for the SAF in 2030 shared by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen during yesterday's Committee of Supply debate.

    Noting the difficulty in forecasting security threats, and that the major challenges of the last decade - 9/11, Sars and piracy - came as surprises, Dr Ng said the nation must adopt a robust approach in building the armed forces.

    The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) will continue a "steady defence spending" that is long-term and "prudent", Dr Ng added.

    He said that defence spending over the last 10 years reflects a steady investment in capability building and has roughly kept pace with inflation, growing from $8.6 billion in 2004 to $12.2 billion last year.

    Mindef was allocated $12.6 billion in this year's Budget.

    To realise the full potential of a networked force in 2030, Dr Ng said the radar systems of the F-16 fighters will be upgraded. A next-generation fighter aircraft, which is still being decided on, will also be acquired.

    A new Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport, which can refuel fighters in the air and double as a cargo and troop airlift, will also be bought.

    To beef up the navy's capabilities, Mindef will add two more Sikorsky Naval Helicopters, which Dr Ng said have been effective in counter-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden. Mindef is also studying the need for larger Landing Ship Tanks that can carry more helicopters and cargo.

    The army in 2030 will be more mobile, with the number of units that will operate on wheel or track platforms to almost double in the next 10 years, Dr Ng said.

    By 2030, current prototype systems may be put into day-to-day use, such as micro-Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for individual soldiers and robotic mules that can carry heavy loads and follow soldiers autonomously.

    "I know this will be every soldier's dream, where a robotic mule carries your rifle. But don't get ahead of yourself, this is for serious stuff," Dr Ng quipped.