Singapore Next Generation AFV: Fighting Smarter in The Future Battlefield

next generation AFV 2

In a quite surprise move, Singapore Defense Minister Dr. Ng En Hen has announced that Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will effectively employs three type of Armored Fighting Vehicle by 2019: The Terrex, Bionix, and the newest addition to the stable: The Next Generation Armored Fighting Vehicle (NG-AFV). In his speech commemorating the SAF day on the 1st of July, Dr. Ng En Hen introduces the NG-AFV that will replace the M113 Ultras which had served the SAF from 1970s. The vehicle is a result of a close cooperation between the SAF, DSTA (Defense Science and Technology Agency), and ST Kinetics as the manufacturer of the NG-AFV. This kind of cooperation had given birth to Bionix and the Terrex program in the past. Be cautious though, the NG-AFV name is temporary and MinDef usually will held an open a name-giving competition to its new weapon system, so it will likely get a real, permanent name by 2019.

Looking through the dimensions, NG-AFV itself is bigger than the Bionix 2 that currently functions as the Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Its dimensions (l x w x h) is 6,9 x 3,28 x 3,2m, compared to the Bionix 2 which is 5,9 x 2,7 x 2,6m. SAF is very cautious and always conducts thorough studies regarding the parameters of their armor. So finally the SAF are feeling comfortable that the road and bridges in Singapore are now strong and able to cope with the bigger NG-AFV. It means that the Singapore soldier can sit comfortably in the NG-AFV compared to the relatively cramped Bionix 2. The extra space also means there will be enough room for growth for additional electronics in the future.

Judging by how it looks, the NG-AFV is comprised of inner shell for the hull, preferably steel, protected by layers of composite armor, probably IBD Deisenroth AMAP since the same armor already installed on Leopard 2SG. From the thickness of the armor, NG-AFV should be able to conform the STANAG 4569 Level 4, or can withstand the impact from 14,5mm projectile. The bottom of the vehicle should be protected from mine blast too. The NG-AFV is focused on network centric warfare, using the battlefield management system to multiply the power of the force involved by enhancing commanders’ situational awareness by networking forces into the wider army and SAF systems. Vehicle situational awareness is provided by the 180 degrees camera coverage in the front of the vehicle, installed atop the engine cover. Another cameras are installed in the rear and covering each side of the vehicle. It should have provisions for the soldier’s Advanced Combat Man Systems currently on the final stages of research and development.

next generation AFV

The NG-AFV is powered by a 700hp engine, which is not specified in details. There is a possibility that ST Kinetics is using one of the Caterpillar engine, which has powered all the Terrex variant. It gives the power to weight ratio at 24,5 hp/ ton, quite mobile for the armor on its class. Since the weight of the vehicle is exceeding the capability of the C-130H Hercules of the RSAF, there’s a possibility that the NG-AFV will be employed only in the city-nation, or the RSAF has plans to buy bigger transport aircraft such as C-17. It seems that STK has plans to develop the NG AFV into a series of vehicle, including fire support vehicle.

The NG-AVF is equipped with Remote Controlled Weapon System comprised of 30mm Bushmaster II autocannon, the same cannon that has been equipped the Bionix II. The 30mm cannon has become the gold standard for the current generation of IFV in the world. For anti infantry role there’s a 7,62mm coaxial machine gun installed on the sponsons, separated from the main gun installation. It seems that SAF and the STK has plan to upgun the cannon in the future, maybe to 35mm. By separating the cannon assembly and the coax gun, the modification needed is minimal if the SAF decided that they need the extra punch and upgrade the gun in the future. The gunner is equipped with stabilized weapon sight, laser rangefinder, day and thermal camera. The commander has its own panoramic sight which can turn independently from the turret. Judging from the network centric emphasis, there is a possibility that the NG-AFV is capable of lasing the target for RSAF smart bomb/ munitions or the Army’s smart artillery using in built laser designator system.

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