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Singapore Armed Forces conducting high-tech wargames supported by suite of sense and strike assets

Singapore Armed Forces conducting high-tech wargames supported by suite of sense and strike assets

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is conducting
an integrated strike exercise, named Exercise Forging Sabre 2017 (XFS 17), in
Phoenix, Arizona in the US from 28 November to 13 December (Singapore time). Such
overseas training and detachments, such as the RSAF’s training in the US, allow
the SAF to overcome Singapore’s land and airspace constraints, and build-up its
operational capabilities and readiness.

The exercise involves about 800 personnel from the Republic
of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and the Singapore Army, as well as a suite of
sense and strike assets from the RSAF. Working as an integrated and networked
force, the SAF will be able to “Out-Sense” the enemy with timely and accurate
information, “Out-Smart” with effective decisions enabled by a networked
Command Post, and “Out-Shoot” with the ability to destroy multiple targets in
various locations simultaneously.

The Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) equipped
the SAF with an indigenously developed command and control (C2) system. Acting
as the nerve centre of the Command Post, the C2 system gives commanders an
integrated battlefield picture, and enables the SAF to shorten the overall
sensor-to-shooter cycle – from the time target information is picked up by
sensors till the neutralisation of targets. Prior to incorporating this system,
information and operations were largely conducted using disparate sources.

DSTA engineers adopted modular and scalable architecture for
quicker deployment of the C2 system. The system was designed such that C2
components supporting various exercise entities, like the sense-making tools
for commanders, are reconfigurable. For example, simulation components that
allow exercise personnel to validate their operational processes can be
integrated to enable the SAF to undergo more complex exercise scenarios. 

The
set-up time for the C2 system was also reduced from weeks to just days with
server virtualisation technology that replaces bulky physical servers with
virtual ones that allow space and computing optimisation. Having a smaller system
server footprint reduced power, cooling and space requirements, saving costs
and resources.

Gathering information
on enemy targets

The sensors scan the battlefield, to collect timely and
accurate information on the enemy targets. Sensors include the Heron
1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
(UAV), STrike ObserveRs Mission (STORM) teams and
Commando detachments.

The Heron 1 UAV can conduct area surveillance with a
real-time, bird’s eye view of the battlefield. On the ground, the STORM teams
can locate enemy targets, observe enemy movements and have the ability to
rapidly direct a wide range of strike assets to engage a target. The Commando
detachments, with information from other sensors like the Heron 1 UAV, can
close-in to find the precise location of enemy targets, and conduct cooperative
lasing for strike assets, like multi-role fighter aircraft, to accurately
strike the targets. The Heron 1 UAV, together with the STORM teams and Commando
detachments, also supports target acquisition for laser-guided precision
munitions.

Making sense of the
information

Once SAF’s sensors pick up enemy targets, the information is
sent back to the Command Post. The Command Post fuses this information to
create a comprehensive real-time situation picture.

The C2 system features real-time updates of the ground
situation picture by integrating the Heron 1 video feeds into an augmented
reality display. Using advanced graphics rendering technology, static
geographical data (e.g. landmarks, road names, building types, vegetation) are
overlaid on top of the real-time video captured by the UAV.

Previously, videos captured by the UAV had to be manually
correlated and marked out on a separate static map display. The integrated
display reduced the cognitive load of operators, and allowed them to quickly
orientate to the latest ground situation picture to make timely decisions.

Above image: Technological evolution of the ground situation picture display- from manual correlation to video-on-map to intelligence-on-video/ Credit: DSTA

Video analytics technology is also applied to the UAV live
feeds to automatically derive target locations onto the integrated display,
further shortening the overall decision-making process and enabling operators
to better keep track of multiple targets.

Sense-making tools were introduced to help commanders in
making mission-critical decisions. For example, a special dashboard was created
to aggregate higher-level information, such as the number of available or
functional assets and bases.

Commanders can make more accurate and rapid assessment of
the extent of battle damage with the addition of new video analytics
technology, a first at XFS.

The coherent picture aids commanders in making informed,
prompt and effective decisions. This process allows the Command Post to
maintain awareness of the situation in the battlefield and develop
comprehensive response plans upon detection of enemy targets. The sensors
continue to monitor and track the enemy’s activity, allowing the Command Post
to make dynamic adjustments to react swiftly to any change in the situation.

The Co-Exercise Director for XFS 17, Brigadier-General Tommy
Tan, shared on the significance of the integrated strike exercise. He said,
“This exercise provides an excellent opportunity for the SAF to validate its
integrated strike capabilities through the conduct of dynamic strike missions.
These missions involve picking up ‘pop-up’ targets that may be moving, tracking
them continuously and making dynamic adjustments to ongoing strike plans to
destroy the targets. The exercise scenarios also include destroying multiple
targets in various locations simultaneously. At XFS 17, these missions are
carried out in a realistic and challenging environment which strengthens our
operational capabilities.”

Acting on the
information

The SAF’s integrated strike capability employs a full range
of assets and weapons to effectively destroy different types of enemy forces.
Multiple moving enemy targets, such as tanks and multiple launch rocket
systems, employing “shoot and scoot” tactics can be destroyed in a single pass
by F-15SG and F-16C/D multi-role fighter aircrafts carrying laser-guided bombs,
or AH-64D Apache attack helicopters using radar-guided missiles.

Enemy Command Post and buildings can be demolished with
heavy calibre bombs, such as the Laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM)
launched by multi-role fighters. Live GBU-31s, a 2000-pound JDAM, will also be
launched during the exercise, a first for this series.

Each High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) can fire
M31 unitary rockets simultaneously at multiple targets, such as enemy air
defence and surveillance systems. The HIMARS, each operated by a three-man
crew, comprises the HIMARS carrier, Launcher Module and the Universal Fire
Control System (UFCS). The HIMARS has a high level of accuracy, with the
capability to hit within 15 m of its target point, thereby reducing collateral
damage and allowing the HIMARS to operate efficiently and effectively,
especially in urban areas.

With a recent upgrade to the UFCS, each HIMARS can acquire
and simultaneously engage multiple targets up to 70km away.

The HIMARS battery fielded its new Battery Command Post
which allows for Operations-On-the-Move and enhanced Battlefield monitoring
when travelling. The new Battery Command Post has a fully automated deployment
of antenna masts that no longer require the crew to operate. The new design
also took ergonomics into consideration to increase crew endurance for
sustained operations.

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