Speech by Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen, at the Commissioning of the Hunter and Armour 50 Celebrations

Speech by Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen, at the Commissioning of the Hunter and Armour 50 Celebrations

Permanent Secretary (Defence)
Chief of Defence Force 
Chief Executive, Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA)
Chief of Army
Chief Armour Officer
President and CEO of ST Engineering
Members of the Armour family, especially the first group of Pioneers
Good evening. 

Let me extend my warmest congratulations to the Armour Formation on its 50th Anniversary and the commissioning of the Hunter Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV) today.

For militaries all over, it is their Armour Formations that intimidate would-be aggressors with their formidable steel and firepower, if not to deter, then to sue for peace or at least agree to a stalemate. This remains true today in modern warfare, despite advances in technology and new platforms in air, land and sea. Even in recent counter-insurgency battles, Armour has found new uses. Tanks have been used to evacuate casualties because only Armour could withstand the armaments that terrorists got their hands on. Infantry soldiers find great comfort behind solid armour vehicles to push their advances or shield their tactical retreats. Soldiers cheer when Armour vehicles roll in. And for good reason, because when Armour arrives, both chances of your survival and mission success have gone up considerably. 

Army and Armour Transformation 

This is the reason the SAF places considerable investment in building up our Armour Formation. Since 1969, the Armour Formation has gone from strength to strength, emulating the steely resolve of your Pioneers. The M113 armoured fighting vehicles were introduced in 1973 to operate with the AMX-13. Steadily and surely, the SAF built up its armoured capabilities, as well as the capabilities of the manufacturing and technical agencies supporting the SAF, through the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), DSO National Laboratories and the Singapore Technologies (ST) family. In 1987, the AMX-13 was upgraded to the SM1 locally. In the late 1990s, ST Automotive[1] developed and manufactured for the Army the first locally made armoured vehicle, the Bionix, to fight alongside the M113, which are on display on the parade square. Ten years later, in 2008, the Leopard 2SG Main Battle Tanks were bought and overhauled substantially by ST Engineering here in Singapore with better command and control networked systems, targeting and precision fires.  

Today, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Armour, we also witness another addition to her orbat – the Hunter AFV. The Hunter is born locally, through the collaboration between Army, DSTA and ST Engineering. The Hunter will be bred locally too, as the core capability of Armour, replacing the Ultra M113 that many Armour soldiers use. From time to time, even though the Hunter is born and bred locally, I expect the Hunter to make overseas "hunting expeditions" to Australia and other training grounds. 

Commissioning of the Hunter AFV

The Hunter replaces the Ultra M113 but represents a significant step-up in all areas – better firepower, mobility and protection. The Hunter fleet will require less manpower to operate, but with increased potency through the use of advanced technology.

The Hunter is the Singapore Army's first fully digitalised platform with C4 systems, which enables it to fight alongside other platforms in the SAF's orbat. These network synergies allow the Hunter to sense more accurately and quicker, to strike first and with deadly precision across all terrains. 

The Hunter can also be integrated with unmanned platforms, including robots. For example, the Hunter crew can mobilise unmanned aerial and ground vehicles (UAVs and UGVs) to gather reconnaissance and surveillance information remotely, with obvious advantages for stealth manoeuvres and its own protection. 

The Hunter is built with better protection to provide greater survivability. This includes operating completely closed hatched as the norm. As a result, both in peacetime and operations, the safety of its crew will be enhanced. 

Pioneers of Our Future

As with the first batch of Armour Pioneers in 1969, the men and women of the Armour Formation have shown their steel and grit in developing these advanced capabilities today. True to the Armour Spirit, they are bold to overcome any adversity. The Armour Formation, as always, will be the SAF's sharp end of the spear to achieve a "Swift and Decisive" victory.   

The Hunter will also make its debut appearance at this year's bicentennial NDP at the Padang. Singaporeans will also be able to touch and feel Armour platforms like the Leopard 2SG tanks, the Bionix and the Bronco, as the mobile columns advance into the heartlands. And just as the Pioneer Generation – many whom are here today, previous commanders and men of the Armour formation – did half a century ago, I hope that Singaporeans will draw strength from the SAF’s Armour Formation, united as one people to defend our home together. This is a fitting tribute to commemorate our Bicentennial, with the SAF giving strength to the nation with Armour at its core.

Once again, I congratulate the Armour Formation on its 50th anniversary and the commissioning of the Hunter. Congratulations and thank you all.



[1] Now known as ST Engineering Land Systems.

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