Singapore—Dr Ng Eng Hen, the country’s Minister of Defence, elaborated on improvements to Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) that would dissuade aggression as well as bring the Republic into the future.
Speaking in Parliament on Friday, March 1 he said,”Defence, especially for a small island like Singapore is crucial if we are to safeguard our interests and deter aggression. Singapore is on track to build a modernised tri-service SAF … that can meet security challenges both in the real and virtual worlds in the 21st century.”
In his speech Dr Ng elaborated on SAF’s purchase of new F-35 jets as well as “Invincible”-class submarines, deploying new armoured fighting vehicles, and using a greater number of unmanned platforms.
Yahoo Singapore reports the Defence Minister as saying, “In all, the Next-Generation SAF of 2030 and beyond, with this full complement of assets in air, land, and sea, will be able to defend Singapore for another generation.
This is the SAF that will take us into and guard our future.”
When Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced the budget for 2019 on February 18, he said that the price tag for this year’s defense budget is S$15.5 billion. In 2018 it was S$14.8 billion.
On March 1, Dr Ng said that spending for defence will increase by 3-4 percent each year, in keeping with inflation.
”To develop such a capable SAF … which can protect Singapore’s interests and keep Singaporeans safe for another generation, will require significant and steady investments. I make no bones about it – it will require resources and our commitment.”
As a replacement for existing F-16 fighter jets, MINDEF is ordering four F-35s from the US. He said in Parliament, “As stated previously, MINDEF will issue a Letter of Request (LOR) to the US to acquire F-35s. As required by US law for foreign military sales, the US Congress must approve the sale of F-35s.”
The Republic has already obtained the endorsement of the Department of Defense as well as the United States Administration for buying the F-35s, as is eating for approval from US Congress.
Singapore has the option of buying eight more F-35s after the initial purchase.
For strengthening its capabilities at sea, SAF will be adding new warships and submarines. One has already been launched in Germany and the other three are in the process of construction.
Dr Ng discussed Invincible-class submarines. “The Invincible-class submarines will have longer endurance, and also the latest locally-developed sensors and automated systems designed for optimal use in our surrounding waters… We aim to have a full fleet of four Invincible-class submarines by 2025.”
New multi-role combat vessels (MRCVs) will be replacing the existing missile corvettes. The full delivery of the MRCVs will be accomplished by 2030.
Dr Ng added that the security of Singapore’s coastline will be bolstered as well, by adding a greater number of coastal radars and optical sensors for discovering threats to the Republic.
There will also be more unmanned watchtowers for monitoring the Singapore Strait. And starting from 2020, the Republic’s territorial waters will be patrolled by unmanned surface vessels as well.
“Next-Generation SAF of 2030 and beyond”
Dr Ng said, “In all, the Next-Generation SAF of 2030 and beyond, with this full complement of assets in air, land, and sea, will be able to defend Singapore for another generation. This is the SAF that will take us into and guard our future. This is the SAF that our investments have bought or will buy.”
The Defence Minister also discussed expanding cybersecurity for the country’s digital defence. Dr Ng added that there will be a greater investment from MINDEF into training facilities, including SAFTI, a one-stop training compound to complement with “urban settings” the “traditional terrains” of the old SAFTI.