Sunday, July 30, 2023

Indian PSLVC56 rocket launches yet another Singaporean radar satellite

The satellite imagery business must be doing quite well. A second Singaporean earth observation satellite, DS-SAR, went into orbit this morning aboard an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) rocket, PSLV-C56.

Indian media reported that PSLV-C56 lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, near Chennai, with six other satellites at 6:31 a.m local time this morning.

“PSLV-C56 carrying seven satellites including the primary satellite DS-SAR and six co-passengers has been successfully placed in the right orbit. This is a PSLV mission for New Space India Limited (NSIL) and I want to congratulate the customers sponsored by the Government of Singapore for having this mission onboard PSLV and their continued faith in our launch vehicle for deploying their spacecraft,” ISRO Chairman S. Somnath said after the successful launch of the mission.

DS-SAR joins another SAR bird, TeLEOS-2, which was launched in April also by an ISRO launch vehicle. Expect this constellation to grow in future.

Satellite imagery is featured in the book #pukulhabis, along with other reconnaissance means. The scenarios of counter satellite surveillance tactics practised by Malaysian forces in the fictional war story were inspired by real SATRAN counter surveillance TTP from Malaysia and other countries.

Pukul Habis: Available from Books Kinokuniya in Malaysia and Singapore, and also from Amazon.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Pukul Habis restocked at Books Kinokuniya Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A Malaysian reader (or fan? 😄) sent me this image of Pukul Habis after he got it yesterday from Books Kinokuniya Malaysia's store at Suria KLCC.

Am delighted with the warm responses from readers in Malaysia and Singapore, despite the somewhat touchy subject of a fictional war involving Angkatan Tentera Malaysia (Malaysian Armed Forces) and the Singapore Armed Forces.

Am grateful to readers from Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, France, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America who got in touch to share their views on the story.

If you're in Malaysia, get the book from Kino's store at Suria KLCC. Kino will also mail it to any location in Malaysia. Please click here for details.

Books Kinokuniya Singapore has stocked Pukul Habis (ISBN 9789811861499). This book has been a Kino Singapore bestseller for many months since its launch, and has topped its weekly top 10 in fiction several times. Please visit its main store in Ngee Ann City or Bugis Junction, or check the Kinokuniya online store here.

For readers elsewhere, please check the Amazon sites that serve your location. "Look Inside" function on some sites shows sample pages.



United Kingdom: Look Inside

USA: Look Inside. When ordering from Singapore, please click on the "Shipping to Singapore?" button. Ignore the "Temporarily out of stock" notice on the page.

Related posts:
Writing about Malay royalty in Pukul Habis. Click here
Special video on the 35th Battalion, Singapore Combat Engineers. Click here 
First book signing at Kino Singapore. Click here
Why Pukul Habis was not written from a Singaporean perspective. Click here
Pukul Habis: Author's Note. Click here
Pukul Habis: Full text of Prologue. Click here
Why does the English language novel, Pukul Habis, have a Malay title? Click here

Thursday, July 27, 2023

ST Engineering: My biggest wish for ST Engineering is...

Some 24 years ago, an armoured vehicle designed and built in Singapore was the only Asian representative in a hard-fought United States Army evaluation for an air-transportable, well-protected yet lethal armoured fighting vehicle (AFV).

The US Army's requirements were tough to meet because excelling in one category (say air mobility) could come at the expense of another (e.g. heavy armour protection) or firepower (since turrets or weapon stations are heavy too, or take up space for troops).

The field of 36 contestants from 11 countries who entered the US Army's search for an Interim Armored Vehicle (IAV) in Nov/Dec 1999 shrank to four contenders a year later.

Among the four shortlisted platforms, Singapore's Bionix, designed and built by ST Engineering at Portsdown Road, was the only design that did not come from defence companies from America or Europe. It was a major achievement for ST Engineering, which spearheaded the bid.

I remember it well, because I covered the evaluation as a Business Times reporter. I spoke to ST Engg's management and engineers involved with the ICV project frequently and could sense their excitement and awareness that this was a major milestone in Singapore's AFV development. Analysts who covered the stock also recognised the significance of ST Engg making inroads in the American AFV market. If successful, it could enhance shareholder value immensely.

At the time, the South Koreans were nowhere in sight.

In November 2000, the US Army named its winner: the wheeled LAV III Stryker from General Motors-General Dynamics Land Systems. The Stryker traces its genesis to the Piranha from a small Swiss company, Mowag, whose designers dared to challenge the ascendancy of the then-powerful and influential US defence industry, which had amassed experience supplying AFVs to the US Army since WW2.

Those 20+ years since the ICV bidding have flown by in a blink of an eye. {I kept ST Engineering's Bionix press releases and ads, which you see here)

Today, we see South Korea's defence industry winning contracts in markets that Asian companies found tough penetrating. Poland has ordered tanks and self-propelled guns from South Korea. And just yesterday, South Korean conglomerate Hanwha, became the first Asian company to win an Australian Army contract for AFVs. Hanwha's Redback design beat Rheinmetall's Lynx from Germany for a massive contract worth billions of dollars. Also noteworthy: South Korea is co-developing a fighter plane with Indonesia. Korean warship designs have also earned international stature.

At its current tempo, South Korea's ambitious defence industry looks set to make its mark on the world's defence market. As more international orders are won, the South Koreans will gain critical mass that would in turn generate global awareness, respect and recognition that they are a new force to be reckoned with.

So, what happened to ST Engg's early and promising run in overseas markets like the US?

One would hope ST Engg never loses its innovative streak that saw it become a first Asian player in the US - way ahead of its Asian peers at the turn of the century. But that was 24 years ago. And the cut-throat environment of the defence industry isn't given to sentimentality or philosophical musings.

There are bright spots: 100 Bronco all-terrain tracked carriers served the British Army with distinction as "Warthogs" after these tracked vehicles were purchased to serve in Afghanistan under an urgent operational requirement. This contract is proof that platforms designed for the Singapore Armed Forces' specific operational requirements can be adapted for overseas customers who value properties like platform survivability, superior mobility and ease of maintenance plus low lifecycle costs.

The next quarter century will flash by quickly. To stay relevant to its shareholders and major client(s), ST Engg needs to power up, or risk being left to eat the dust of faster moving rivals who made the leap from unknowns to major players on the world's defence market.

I am confident ST Engg can do better. It has done much to enhance Singapore Army war machines - way more than what is reported from open literature. Land platforms like Bionix, Bronco, Terrex and Hunter have all been lauded at Singapore's annual Defence Technology Prize (our highest award for excellence in defence engineering). What it needs is to nail that big, elusive international win with one of its award-winning platforms. That's my biggest wish for the company. Go for it!

Note: The author does not own any ST Engg shares.

Saturday, July 8, 2023

First Republic of Singapore Navy Type 218SG submarine arrives in Singapore waters aboard Rolldock Storm

More images of Rolldock Storm’s transit through the Singapore Strait this morning, carrying the Singapore navy’s Type 218SG Invincible-class submarine to home waters for the first time. The submarine, Impeccable, arrived here from Germany after slightly more than a month at sea. 

RSS Unity, a Littoral Mission Vessel, escorted the heavy-lift ship. Rolldock Storm’s previous cargo, the submarine, Impeccable, was not visible to onlookers. 

The Singapore Armed Forces appears to have implemented extensive protective security measures to screen the new submarine. Steel modules and containers were used to cover the hull and conning tower of the 70-metre long submarine.

Senang Diri believes these measures are unprecedented for a RSN submarine repatriation. They were not done some 20 years ago when the author wrote about the repatriation of the RSN’s last two Challenger-class boats.

In addition, the submarine transporter and her Singapore navy escort were noted to have deviated from the Eastbound lane of the Singapore Strait traffic separation scheme. This lane lies at the southern end of the strait. 

H/T Timothy Liu for braving the hot weather this morning while on coast watch. The results, as you can tell, are worth the effort. 

And here are images of Rolldock Storm in Kiel, Germany,  in May this year as the ship was prepared for her voyage to Singapore. 

Republic of Singapore Navy’s newest submarine arrives in Singapore

The Republic of Singapore Navy’s latest submarine, Impeccable, arrived in Singapore this morning (8 July 2023). 

The German-built Type 218SG submarine was transported to Singapore aboard a heavy-lift vessel, Rolldock Storm

Impeccable is the second of the RSN’s four Invincible-class submarines. Impeccable was launched on 13 December 2022 with Illustrious in Kiel, Germany, by Madam Ho Ching, wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. 

To prepare for her voyage to Singapore, Impeccable was shielded from view by an assortment of metal containers placed over Rolldock Storm’s cargo deck. These containers covered the submarine’s deck and blocked off most of her conning tower, which would otherwise have been visible above the transport vessel’s hull. 

This is a developing story. More updates to follow. 

Friday, July 7, 2023

Flashback: Delivery of Republic of Singapore Navy submarines

Word that the Singapore navy’s latest submarine, Impeccable, is due to arrive this weekend triggered memories of this article I wrote in January 2004 on a similar delivery. 

The Straits Times story, published on 26 Jan 2004, reported that three Sjoormen-class submarines were en route from Sweden to Singapore. Noteworthy is the presence of an additional boat - the Republic of Singapore Navy had reportedly bought just four secondhand boats from the Royal Swedish Navy. Two were already in Singapore.

I recall that when I asked the Singapore Ministry of Defence about the fifth submarine, it described it as “a reserve vessel”. 

That Jan 2004 pix predated Instagram, Facebook and all of today’s conveniences that the ship spotting community enjoys. So I was quite happy to see it nearly 20 years ago. 

Quite looking forward to updates on Rolldock Storm as she approaches Singapore with Impeccable. I bet it won’t take long before ship spotters in Singapore get pictures of this special delivery. [You know what to do]

P.S. If you like subs, do take a look at Pukul Habis. It’s a fictional story (in English!) on war in Malaysia and Singapore. Here’s a preview on KD Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Malaysian navy sub that is featured in the story. Click here

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Singapore navy Type 218SG submarine, Impeccable, expected to arrive this weekend

Rolldock Storm, the transport ship carrying a Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) submarine, could arrive in Singapore waters as soon as this weekend. 

Rolldock Storm’s whereabouts, which had not been updated on ship tracking platforms for weeks, appear to have gone online again this afternoon. 

Her position was indicated at the northern entrance to the Strait of Malacca. At her present course and speed, she could reach the Singapore Strait in coming days. 

The transport vessel has a deck which can be weighed down with water ballast to allow oversized cargo to float into her “dock”. Once secured in position, water is pumped out and the ship will gain more freeboard, with the deck cargo high and dry after the now-lightened ship’s waterline is raised. 

Impeccable is the RSN’s second Type 218SG submarine. The first boat, Invincible, which has had more time to install, check out, integrate and test all her onboard systems, is expected to remain in Germany to train future Type 218SG crew.