Saturday, October 23, 2010

S'pore Army tank crew tops tri-nation MBT shoot-out

On high alert and with all eyes scanning down range, the Singapore Army Leopard tank crew was out on a hunt.

Their quarry: targets that popped up randomly and at varying distances on an Australian Army live-fire range.

They had done this many times before - on a simulator and only for about half a year. Now, the Singaporean tankees were pitted against regulars from Australia and the United States and fighting without a home ground advantage.

Whenever a target appeared, the tank commander would issue crisp fire control orders, the gunner swivelled the turret towards the kill zone while the loader readied the 120mm gun for a fire mission.

The Singaporean main battle tank crew did well and was named the "Best Tank Crew" in a tri-nation shooting cum manoeuvre exercise that involved Australian and American tankees. This was a credible performance for a MBT team made up of full-time National Servicemen (NSF) led by a young regular.

Senang Diri understands that the NSFs had trained on the Leopard for about six months, which makes their performance against regulars even more noteworthy.

According to the September 2010 issue of the Singapore Army's Army News, the Leopard 2A4 main battle tank crew led by tank commander, Army regular Second Sergeant Andy Hoe, and the NSFs comprising driver, Corporal First Class Lim Hao Jie, tank gunner, Corporal Malcolm Ong, and loader, Lance Corporal Chiang Wen Jun, earned the title of "Best Tank Crew" in a friendly face off for main battle tank crews from Australia, the United States and Singapore. The shoot-out took place in September 2009.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) deployed refurbished M1A1 Abrams while the US was represented by US Marine Corps M1s. Team Singapore comprised tankees from Platoon 7, 3rd Company, 48th Battalion, Singapore Armoured Regiment, who took to the field in Leopard 2A4 MBTs that had yet to be upgraded to L2-SG standard with heavier armour and improved battle sense.

In the Aussie outback, the X-box generation of full-time National Servicemen proved they were nimble hunters, deadly shooters and strong team players.

Senang Diri understands that NSF gunners from 48 SAR who train on the Leopard tank gunnery simulator display the same hunter-killer reflexes that most teens show when engaged in an intense video game.

Tank commander 2SG Andy and gunner CPL Malcolm were responsible for searching for, identifying, prioritising and engaging the targets quickly and accurately. Driver CFC Hao Jie had to bring his war machine into firing position quickly, guided by and sensing what his tank commander would want to do even before verbal orders were given. Loader LCP Wen Jun's job was to pull 120mm rounds from the ammo racks, load each round rapidly and safely, close the breech and stand aside before the gunner loosed off a shot. The tank crew had to do this over new ground and work with a targeting system they were not familiar with.

Closed up under armour in terra incognito, their guiding principle was the same for every 120mm round they sent downrange: Shoot to kill.

They had to beat the clock and fend off friendly competition from professional warfighters from the ADF and USMC tankees.

Despite their achievements, the NSFs exposure to armour tactics and operational art has just begun. Their two years of compulsory NS merely introduces them to the rudiments of Armoured Battle Group manoeuvre warfare and follow-on training in coming years is needed to hone their battle sense.

Earlier batches of 48 SAR tankees were trained in Germany by instructors from the Bundeswehr panzer school.

CPL Ong told Army News: "Honestly, we didn't do anything special or extraordinary. We just put what we learnt into practice and carried out what we have been training for."

5 comments:

Anthony said...

Well done! That Hao Jie dude is also featured in this cyberpioneertv clip
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2Wjp9cS28g

bdique said...

this speaks volumes about our warfighting capabilities. the bulk of our armed forces may be young, but they are deadly capable :)

Anonymous said...

Pardon the cynic in me, but were these guys specifically cherry picked for this competition, or were they a normal L2 crew sent for the competition? It would be impressive if these guys are considered the "average" tank crew in Armour...

- K

dtwn said...

Proud of their efforts.

Even if they were a cherry-picked crew, their performance despite their lack of substantial experience is still noteworthy.

Frances said...

Those who wish to excel in the field of competitive shooting should try out the simulators offered by websites such as www.sportsentertainmentspecialists.com.