This weapon adds to the air defence shield over and around Singapore island provided by the RSAF's Air Defence & Operations Command (ADOC).
ADOC defends our skies by maintaining a 24/7 watch of everything that flies over and around Singapore island. Its network of ground-based sensors detect, identify, track objects and marry the track data from ground sensors with data picked up by G-550 Airborne Early Warning planes - essentially flying radar stations - to form a comprehensive air situation picture of the airspace around the city state.
This blend of RSAF air and ground sensors, warplanes and air defence weapon systems - the sensors and shooters - forms Singapore's integrated air defence network.
At the sharp end are RSAF fighter aircraft whose operational ranges, flying performance and weapons load ensure enemy aircraft are engaged as far from Singapore as possible. All RSAF fighters can be refuelled in the air by KC-135R Stratotanker or KC-130B/H Hercules aerial refuelling tankers, giving Singapore's air force added reach and endurance during operations. Thanks to the aerial refuelling tankers, RSAF fighter aircraft can hit an enemy afar, day or night, or stay in the air for a longer time.
Defending Our Skies
Enemy intruders will have to fight their way through successive rings of combat air patrols flown by twin-seat F-15SG Strike Eagles, single-seat F-16C Fighting Falcons and single-seat F-5S Tiger IIs before coming into the range rings of ADOC SAMs.
If enemy aircraft manage to get through the fighter aircraft, the Improved Hawk SAMs, which can hit targets 40km away (the distance from Tuas to Changi Point) will swing into action, followed by the 7-km range Rapier missiles.
ADOC's I-Hawks benefit from an upgrade that has allowed fire units to reduce the number of its vulnerable radars. At the same time, the upgrade increases the system's survivability by drawing realtime target information from fibre optic cables, which are impossible to detect using Wild Weasel warplanes tasked with SEAD/DEAD missions.
It is important to note that ADOC's ground-based air defences can be bolstered by the Republic of Singapore Navy's (RSN) Aster 15 missiles, should the Navy's Formidable-class stealth warships add their firepower to the air defence of Singapore. The stealth ships can also provide a radar picket service out at sea, thus giving greater clarity to the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) awareness of the threat situation.
It is also timely to acknowledge the part served by Singapore's defence engineers in tailoring weapon platforms and systems to ADOC's specific operational requirements. These include entities such as the Defence Science & Technology Agency (DSTA), the city state's authority on weapons technology and arms acquisitions, and DSO National Laboratories.
Once over Singapore island or the Singapore Army's area of operations, aircraft can be engaged by manportable air defence systems (MANPADS) such as the laser-guided RBS-70 or heat-seeking missiles like the Mistral and Igla missiles fitted on quad launcher Mechanized Igla and the twin tube Salvo Launch Unit. This mix of laser-guided and heat-seeking missile complicates an enemy's attempts at deceiving RSAF air defence weapons as each missile is programmed to hunt its aerial quarry using different technology.
ADOC's last ditch defence is mounted by batteries of radar-directed Oerlikon 35mm anti-aircraft guns, which are designed to throw up a wall of 35mm shells in the path of low flying enemy planes.
No air defence is leak proof. But Singapore's hefty investments in its integrated air defence network has given the city state one of the world's most heavily-defended skies with more SAMs and warplanes per square km than any other country in the world. Such firepower forces a potential aggressor to assemble, train and deploy an immense overmatch in capabilities before an air campaign as a failure to knockout the RSAF will inevitably trigger a deadly autostrike.
When all else fails, key installations in Singapore and the RSAF's airbase infrastructure are hardened and designed to absorb the weight of attack from a (presumably depleted) enemy air strike or rocket artillery attack.
The latest addition to the integrated air defence network is the Spyder, devised by Israeli weapons maker Rafael to counter new and emerging aerial threats.
Introducing the Spyder
The Spyder, whose name means Surface-to-air PYthon 5 and DERby (Spyder), is an anti-aircraft system comprising two missile types designed to kill aircraft, helicopters and missiles up to 15 kilometres away.
Spyders will arm ADOC's 165 Squadron, which is due to swop its ageing Rapier SAMs with the longer range, more agile and jam-resistant aircraft killers.
The blunt-nosed Python 5 missile homes in on the heat from the engine(s) of its target before detonating its warhead when the missile flies close enough to the target to cause grievious hurt.
The Derby uses the radar mounted in its sharp nose to track, engage and kill enemy fliers.
Both missiles are highly agile and are designed for combat even when the enemy attempts to deceive the missiles using infrared flares (which mimic the heat given off by an engine) or by blinding the radar by jamming its signals.
Any combination of the Python 5 or Derby can be mounted on the RSAF Spyder fire unit. The missiles can be launched in all weather conditions in any direction around the fire unit.