Friday, July 19, 2013

All-out effort to protect Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) warfighters in Afghanistan result in never-before-seen electronics suite on Singapore Army vehicles

Hostilities only: A Singapore Army Protected Light Utility Vehicle (PLUV, essentially an armoured Ford Everest ops utility vehicle) seen during an Afghan winter during Operation Blue Ridge - the SAF deployment to Afghanistan. The vehicle carries a new number plate, used only in Afghanistan, and has an antenna farm on its roof. The electronic devices are believed to be used for navigation, comms as well as vehicle self-protection to detect and defeat electronically-initiated Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Such IED countermeasures special equipment only appears on SAF combat vehicles during real missions. They are never (legally) seen while in Singapore during peacetime. [Picture: Ministry of Defence, Singapore] 

Coming soon to the heartlands: An exhibition that showcases the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) six-year operational deployment in Afghanistan that also reveals special vehicle electronics for the first time.

When the SAF first deployed its own vehicles to Afghanistan as part of Operation Blue Ridge, it was generally understood that maximum efforts would be made to protect Singaporeans travelling in danger zones from threats from land mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) as well as infantry weapons of various calibers and projectiles.

Images of OBR vehicles shown during a preview of the Ops Blue Ridge travelling exhibition indicate the extent to which the SAF has gone to protect its warfighters. The operation stretched over 2,263 days from 2007 to 2013. The last three SAF serviceman landed in Singapore this afternoon at 15:00 hours Hotel.

Pictures of Singapore Army combat vehicles sent for the mission show that the Army's warhorses sprouted assorted antennae and unknown add-ons never seen in Singapore before.

These include IED jammers special mission equipment added to armoured PLUVs as well as the MaxxPro Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) four-wheeled armoured vehicles, which made their public debut during the 2010 National Day Parade.

It has taken three years for the SAF to declassify equipment that Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) defence engineers and SAF ops planners devised for combat vehicles destined for OBR.

Some of the add-ons are believed to be GPS navigation aids - essential for long-range route navigation in Afghanistan where directional signs are non-existent or suspect.

Other antennae are for communications while some are believed to be defensive aids to jam counter IEDs. If confirmed, these would be the first known counter-IED electronics suite carried by SAF vehicles during an operation.

Interestingly, vehicles fielded for OBR left their MID number plates at home. While in-theatre, each OBR vehicle was known simply as "SAF *Insert numeral*". For example, the vehicle numbering convention for MaxxPro MRAPs seen in Afghanistan saw such vehicles plated as SAF 5, SAF 8 and so on. In Singapore, such vehicles were noted with number plates in the MID 602xx-series.

The Singapore Army's MaxxPro MRAPs have all been flown back to Singapore via chartered Antonov AN-124s and are believed to be stabled in Nee Soon Camp.

Bells and whistles: Singapore Army MaxxPro MRAP deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Blue Ridge sports an assortment of antennae on the roof which have never been seen while in Singapore. The addition of IED jammers such equipment underscores intense yet low-profile efforts applied by the MINDEF/SAF defence science community to protect Singaporean warfighters deployed for real ops.[Photo: Ministry of Defence Singapore] 

Maximum readiness: Close up of a Singapore Army MaxxPro MRAP with a foldable antenna, which was not seen when the MRAPs were displayed in public for the first time during the 2010 National Day Parade Mobile Column. Similar equipment seen on combat vehicles from Western armies in war zones is said to be used to detect/jam signals that could be used to trigger IEDs.[Photo: Ministry of Defence, Singapore] 

Am grateful to the Singapore Army's Army Information Centre (AIC) for the sneak preview of the Operation Blue Ridge exhibition at the SAFTI Military Institute this evening. Look out for more teasers on the exhibition in coming days.

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MRAP unwrapped. Click here


Anonymous said...

SAF boleh !

Anonymous said...

So many fire power for show, NS an excuses to indenture the male Singaporeans to the state

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:31 - bad grammar and limited intellect often go hand in hand.

Great post David. Am proud of the SAF and their achievements in OBR. Punching above our weight as always!

Anonymous said...

He does have a point. Singapore is a rich country. It can afford so much firepower, it can surely afford to pay NSFs properly for their forced sacrifice but just refuses to.

Anonymous said...