Monday, July 5, 2010

99001 MID

The big shots once courted this Terrex AV81 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV).

This Terrex was the star at the Army Open House 2009 at Pasir Laba Camp. Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Mr Teo Chee Hean unveiled this IFV as the first of a new breed of Singapore Army war machines. Thousands of AOH 2009 visitors boarded her for a close look at Singapore's first Terrex. You may have done so too.

But at last Saturday's CR3, Terrex 99001 MID did not have the honour of joining the Mobile Column drive past. Instead, she was left by the roadside as a “spare”.

Terrex 99001 MID is a Command Post variant of the Terrex family of IFVs, made in Singapore by Singapore Technologies Kinetics (STK).

She wields information as a weapon. She collects battlefield information from sources such as unmanned sensors planted by Singapore Army intelligence scouts or air force drones to detect, hunt and kill her opponents. Even though the CP Terrex is one of the most deadly variants, it may seem ironic that 99001 MID has no overhead weapon station and defends herself using the small arms of her crew.

No weapon station means that 99001 MID does not have to carry thousands of rounds of machine gun or grenade launcher ammunition within her armoured hull. Relieved of this burden, Singapore Army warfighters and STK defence engineers have tailored the Command Post Terrex as an eight-wheeled battlefield computer - a rugged, air-transportable and amphibious war machine that gives Singapore Army infantrymen a clearer sense of their battlespace from afar.

The lack of any obvious offensive firepower is perhaps the reason why 99001 MID was dropped from the Mobile Column’s line up.

Casual observers might reasonably conclude that this Terrex IFV looks benign, unarmed and unable to defend herself.

Herein lies the challenge of underlining what the Third Generation Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) can do and the decisive advantage that information brings to firefights.

People looking at the NDP Mobile Column must be taught that the 3rd Gen SAF’s firepower comprises more than the gun barrels, missile or rocket tubes aboard vehicles with MID numberplates.

In the case of 99001 MID, this Command Post presents information to infantry as electronic maps which show the positions of friendly forces and known hostile units, as SMS text message alerts or video images that indicate what’s beyond the next hill or next street - all in real-time.

This is the Battlefield Management System or BMS, which is a locally-developed network of ruggedised computers and electronic sensors that tech-savvy SAF warfighters use to see first, see more, decide faster and act decisively.

It is a cliché that today’s better-educated, tech-savvy SMS generation of full-time National Servicemen are handling with ease.

Armed with a sharper sense of their battlespace, Singapore Army infantry learn how to engage and destroy opposing forces more speedily and with greater precision (and thus less collateral damage) than previously possible in pre-BMS days.

During SAF war games, the Singapore Army has demonstrated the value of a networked division that can see well above and beyond the enemy’s FEBA.

With a keener sense of the action, vehicles such as 99001 MID have proven that ample firepower is nothing without control.

Terrex 99001 MID may seem like an easy kill with no obvious weapons with which to return enemy fire.

But the IFV does not fight alone.

And Singapore Army CP vehicles, whether tracked or wheeled, won’t fight without a disguise during operations either :-)

A word of thanks to the Spare Vehicle convoy and unsung heroes, the SAF vehicle mechanics who keep the A and B-vehicles in tip-top form. Week after week, you all standby for action knowing full well you may not be called to take part in the drive past. The role you serve is vital in keeping the Mobile Column mission-ready and the spirit you've all demonstrated is commendable.


Ben Choong said...

does it really count as an IFV? I've always seen it more as an APC.

anyway nice article, the less sexy vehicles but incredibly critical vehicles do need some airtime too :)

FIVE-TWO said...

If in the sense that it acts as a mothership and supports the troops with information rather than firepower, it would be the latest morph of an IFV, but in the traditional definition it would have to be considered an APC.