Report by Ong Hong Tat
Photos by Chai Sian Liang
Without the support of the defence technology community, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) would have found its ongoing transformation into the 3rd Generation fighting force much harder.
To further the Army's collaboration with the Defence Science & Technology Agency (DSTA), DSO National Laboratories (DSO), Singapore Technologies Engineering and other industry partners, the Army hosted the inaugural Army Technology Symposium (ATS) on 6 and 7 Aug at Pasir Laba Camp.
At his opening address, Chief of Army Major-General (MG) Neo Kian Hong said: "We are doing extremely well on the technological front, but we should not be naïve and use technology for technology's sake. Technology must be balanced with operating needs and realities."
One notable development that arose from the close partnership between the Army and its technological partners is the Advanced Combat Man System (ACMS). This array of portable sensors, computers and communications equipment makes it possible for SAF soldiers to fight as one entity in the battlefield by seamlessly linking up the Command Headquarters with SAF assets and soldiers on the ground.
The ACMS, the Battlefield Management System (BMS) and the recently acquired Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicle, are testament to the technological prowess of Singapore's indigenous defence technology community.
With real-time satellite images displayed on its screen, the BMS allows commanders to view all friendly forces within its vicinity as well as communicate with other air and land platforms to call for support fire.
The ATS was also held to "forge a stretched vision of what the Army should be capable of to operate in the future battle space," said Chief Systems Integration Officer Colonel Ng Kok Wan, during his presentation at the symposium.
Urging participants to fully exploit the opportunities made available by the ATS, MG Neo said: "We should articulate and clarify the operational challenges and at the same time offer a range of solutions. This way, there will be a lot more innovations going forward. Beyond the ATS, we should continue the sharing to create a community of ideas."
The ATS was also an opportunity for stakeholders to demonstrate new prototypes of equipment such as the 40mm Soldier Parachute Aerial Reconnaissance Camera System (SPARCS). The system is basically a projectile carrying a camera. Upon deployment from a grenade launcher, it will capture an aerial view of the target area while suspended by a small parachute and transmit the images back to troops on the ground.
Also on display was the prototype combat boots from DSO that alleviates soldier fatigue from walking long distances. With an innovatively-shaped sole, the boot can maximise the energy return to its wearer and reduce the effort taken to walk.
Apart from Army senior commanders, about 300 of the top minds from the local and international defence science community also participated in the two-day ATS which saw many active and insightful discussions.
Photo Caption: MG Neo Kian Hong urging participants at the inaugural Army Technological Symposium to exploit fully the opportunities for discussion to strengthen the Army's technological edge.
Photo Caption: Soldiers conducting urban operations. They are wearing the Advanced Combat Man System, developed by the local defence science community for the SAF.
Photo Caption: From DSO National Laboratories, the prototype combat boots with their uniquely-shaped soles aim to reduce wearer fatigue caused by walking long distances.