Monday, May 13, 2013

Republic of Singapore Navy Formidable-class stealth frigate RSS Tenacious to display latest evolution to its OOTW upgrade

Sea view: Interesting man-of-war in the foreground, the upgraded stealth frigate Tenacious, and yet another in the background!

Singapore's latest answer to maritime security challenges, the upgraded stealth frigate RSS Tenacious, will display capability improvements this weekend that make the warship unique in the class of six.

Prominent among the upgrades is a Thales STIR fire control radar (FCR) on the bridge roof. Less prominent but nonetheless obvious to those who know where to look is an electro-optic (EO) sensor mounted in a prominent position.

These evolutions make Tenacious distinct from sister ship RSS Intrepid. Both warships were modified for the Operations Other Than War (OOTW) role to enable the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) to perform constabulary duties on extended patrol in distant waters.

Tenacious goes on show at the RSN's Navy Open House 2013, which will be held at Changi Naval Base from 18 to 19 May.

In the opinion of this blog, the upgrade for Tenacious could have been based upon additions and alterations to adapt Intrepid for hunting sea pirates in the Gulf of Aden. The deployment, codenamed Operation Blue Sapphire (Maritime), lasted three months and marked the first operational deployment for stealth frigates.

It is the opinion of this blog that an after-action review could have recommended further changes to the first evolution of the OOTW fit. Recommendations tabled by the AAR could have included urgent operational requirements now seen aboard Tenacious.

Observation of both warships, kindly facilitated by the Singaporean Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) Public Affairs Directorate (PAFF), has allowed Senang Diri to record some of the visible changes to these FFS.

Evolution 1 OOTW for RSS Intrepid includes but is not limited to the following:
2 x Long Range Acoustic Device Xtreme 500 (LRAD 500X), effective range 2,000 metres
1 x Launch & Recovery System (LARS) on SSM deck
2 x Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) on SSM deck for embarked Naval Diving Unit combat divers
2 x Typhoon guns in stealth mountings on RAS deck
2 x EW countermeasures of European origin on foc'sle
2 x torpedo decoys of European origin on hangar roof

Additional berths for embarked NDU team was installed in crew quarters while gym equipment like free weights and treadmills were added in the torpedo magazine.

Evolution 2 OOTW for Tenacious includes but is not limited to:
All Evolution 1 refinements for ITR plus
1 x Thales STIR FCR on bridge roof
1 x EO

It is thought that additional mid-life upgrades to the FFS may see a further evolution that would give the embarked Naval Helicopter more punch against fast craft like skiffs favoured by pirates in the horn of Africa.

It is likely that the pair of Seahawks said to have been purchased by Singapore will be the naval variant armed and equipped as helicopters gunships. The sharp end of these MH-standard Seahawks could include Hellfires, rocket pods and belt-fed automatic weapons of various calibre.

It would be surprising if a UAV capability was not added to the OBS(M) standard FFS in due course.

The addition of the FCR is thought to address concerns that the FFS might be blinded should its prominent Herakles radar sustain hits from small arms, MGs or shoulder-launched projectiles like RPGs.

The FCR's ability to sweep the forward 180-degree sector of the FFS allows the warship to maintain some degree of situational awareness independent of the Herakles. The sea situation picture in the direction of movement of the FFS can be maintained using the STIR alone, with the 76mm OtoBreda Super Rapido A-gun slaved to this FCR.

The EO sensor adds to visual and electromagnetic data gathered by the FCR. However, it is the opinion of this blog that the location of the EO may make it difficult for crew aboard Tenacious to keep the optics clean while at sea. A shamal dust storm, which is not uncommon in the Middle East, could potentially degrade the EO's performance should a layer of dust cake its protective cover.

Without actually stepping onboard, nothing more than guesstimates can be made about these evolutions.

This blog looks forward to the opportunity of inspecting visiting Tenacious during this weekend's Navy Open House at Changi Naval Base.

We will be thorough.


Anonymous said...

Nice upgrades for the frigates. Thanks for the report. Can't wait to see your report on RSS Tenacious (I'm overseas).

zeenie said...

Looking forward to your upcoming report!
Wonder whether we should develop the capability for the heli to fire a heavy caliber weapon (like the 12.7x99mm M107) for disabling small boats. The US Coastguard have that capability for stopping smugglers who use high speed small boats.

Anonymous said...

RSAF sent a AH-64 to the recent LIMA. Do you have an idea if it flew there or was embarked on a frigate?

Roy RX said...

It flew there with a stopover in Penang.