It is stronger, more lethal and provides all-round protection for its soldiers.
Commissioned by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, the new Hunter Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV) was unveiled as part of the Armour formation's 50th anniversary celebrations at Sungei Gedong Camp on 11 Jun.
A significant step up from the Ultra M113 that it is replacing, the Hunter has greater firepower and mobility, and offers better protection for its soldiers.
Speaking at the anniversary parade, Dr Ng said: "The Hunter is the Singapore Army's first fully digitalised platform with C4 (command, control, communications and computer) systems, which enables it to fight alongside other platforms in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
"These network synergies allow the Hunter to sense more accurately and quicker, to strike first and with deadly precision across all terrains."
Army's first fully digitalised platform
Designed with the modern soldier in mind, the Hunter boasts touchscreen controls which soldiers of today are familiar with.
It is also the first of the AFVs to have an integrated combat cockpit – an inspiration taken from aircraft design – which allows the vehicle commander and gunner to operate a common set of controls. This means that both crew members can see what the other is doing for faster communication and battle planning.
In addition to its automatic target detection and tracking system, the Hunter is equipped with an independent commander's sight so that the vehicle commander can search for other targets while the gunner engages the enemy.
"(The Hunter) incorporates smart and digital technologies catered to modern-day soldiers, who are increasingly tech-savvy. It is designed for our local soldiers so that training (is made more) intuitive and (the vehicle is) simple to operate," said Chief Armour Officer Brigadier-General (BG) Yew Chee Leung.
Stronger battlefield network
In today's battlefield, network connectivity for information sharing is crucial in increasing situational awareness. And among the Hunter’s suite of C4 systems is the Army Tactical Engagement and Information System (ARTEMIS).
This system enables more efficient wireless information exchange among various military formations and the crew in the vehicles, for faster battlefield coordination.
It is also integrated with the Hunter's remote controlled weapon station so that the crew can detect, mark and share target information with other forces.
Greater protection for soldiers
Major Brandon Lim, a weapons staff officer involved in the design and development of the Hunter, said: "The fully digitalised AFV…(has) changed the way we fight. The Hunter provides not only greater capabilities and lethality, (but also) enhancements to our operability and maintainability."
For example, the Hunter is armed with a 30mm cannon, two anti-tank guided missiles, a 7.62mmm coaxial machine gun and eight 76mm smoke grenade launchers.
It also offers greater protection as crew can operate close-hatched within the vehicle. Thanks to 13 cameras fitted on the vehicle exterior, the crew have a 360-degree view of their surroundings.
And if the AFV is targeted by aggressors, a laser warning system will trigger an early alert.
Other inbuilt safety features include audio and visual alerts to prompt the crew of vehicle anomalies and hazards during movement and when stationary, as well as the emergency brake, horn and stop buttons.
Jointly developed by the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), the Army and ST Engineering, the Hunter is equipped with a vehicle health and utilisation monitoring system.
Using data analytics, the system tracks and detects signs of failure early, explained Mr William Peh, the programme director of land systems from DSTA. This allows the crew to rectify faults before malfunctions occur and reduces maintenance costs over time.
At the heart of Armour
While a core group of Armour Regulars have already begun training on the Hunter, the first batch of Full-time National Servicemen will start training next year. The new AFV is set to gradually replace the Ultra M113s over the next few years.
Even as Armour celebrates its golden jubilee with the addition of a new asset, BG Yew noted that it was the people who have made the formation what it is today.
"In Armour, we have a saying that the best tank has the best tank crew. We believe that, beyond the technologies, it's always about our people and our fighting spirit."
This bold spirit of overcoming adversity is apparent in the men and women of Armour today, noted Dr Ng.
Addressing soldiers at the parade, he said that "the Armour formation, as always, will be the SAF's sharp end of the spear to achieve a 'swift and decisive' victory".
The celebration was attended by Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General (LG) Melvyn Ong, Chief of Army Major-General Goh Si Hou, Chief Executive of DSTA Tan Peng Yam, as well as senior officials from the Ministry of Defence and Singapore Armed Forces. Past and present Armour personnel, including early batches of Armour national servicemen, were also present at the event.