Sunday, June 20, 2010

Presenting: The Singapore Army's new Armoured Recovery Vehicle

As the saying goes, a picture says it all.

Ladies and gentlemen, behold: the Leopard 2 Bergepanzer III Armoured Recovery Vehicle (ARV), also known as the Buffel (Buffalo).

Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) watchers will have a field day updating themselves on developments in the Lion City's defence forces come 9 August 2010 at this year's 45th National Day Parade.

From the sneak preview of the first Combined Rehearsal (CR1) at the Padang on Saturday 19 June 2010, it was clear that the SAF is keen on highlighting more than a handful of new capabilities and war machines.

Interestingly, some new additions like the Bergepanzer III ARV will make their debut as part of the supporting cast to the military hardware that will trundle or roll past City Hall for the first time.

You know an excursion has hit the sweet spot when a bus load of militarynuts go wild over the first public sighting of the Buffel ARV in Singapore's city centre. The Buffel ARV was tucked away in a quiet corner off the parade ground, waiting for a call for its muscle should one of the Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks need a helping hand.

The combat weight of each Leopard 2A4 main battle tank demands an ARV with the heft and engine power to tow the German-built warhorse out of a sticky situation.

The acquisition of the Buffel ARV speaks volumes of the way the SAF builds its defence capabilities.

Just as it would be silly to acquire submarines without concurrently building and supporting a submarine rescue capability, it makes little sense buying main battle tanks when you have nothing in your inventory to tow these monsters should they break down in the field or on the road.

The SAF's growth trajectory is guided by a capabilities-based and not a threat-based approach.

And building capabilities entails a thorough understanding of the whole chain of systems, processes and manpower requirements needed to ensure war machines work as advertised.

Put simply: SAF war machines are more than parade trophies.

The appearance of the Singapore Army's Buffel ARV makes a compelling statement that the Army's Leopard 2A4s were not a standalone purchase but a capability development that was well-thought through and balanced.

The story of how quickly the SAF managed to make the capability jump from SM1 light tanks to MBTs is one that cannot be told in full without running afoul of the Republic's tight info security regulations.

But those who know, will know and draw comfort from the fact that the SAF Armour's promise of delivering a Swift and Decisive knockout punch against the aggressor(s) is more than an empty promise.

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