Saturday, September 5, 2009

3G SAF: SAF's beefed-up battlefield 'taxi'

Sep 3, 2009
SAF's beefed-up battlefield 'taxi'
Faster, nimbler Terrex has brain and firepower
By Jermyn Chow

BATTLEFIELD 'taxis' just got a lot faster, nimbler and smarter.

The Terrex, a designed- and made-in-Singapore armoured infantry carrier, even has its own firepower. Its remote-controlled machine guns can take down targets 800m away and spit out bullets at 350 rounds a minute.

Dubbed the King of the Terrain, the eight-wheeler can roar across rugged terrain at a top speed of 105 kmh.

Also at home in water, it can carry 13 soldiers.

The Singapore Armed Forces will buy 45 of these for its three combined arms divisions, and troops will start training on them in February.

The vehicle is the result of a two-year partnership between the army, defence company Singapore Technologies Kinetics and the Defence Science & Technology Agency.

The Terrex takes foot soldiers away from being moved in lumbering, canvas-topped three-tonners, which are less mobile and still require troops to hotfoot it, sometimes for hours, to get to their destinations.

First Warrant Officer Kalai Selvan, a trainer at the Infantry Training Institute, knows first-hand the physical cost of getting the men to walk, in full battle kit, 12km in three hours: 'They will be tired and have to overcome fatigue, blisters and abrasions to take down the enemy - not their prime condition.'

Besides cutting down on travel time and delivering troops closer to their objective and in better shape, the Terrex's armour also protects the soldiers from enemy fire.

But it is more than just a 'taxi'. Its electronic brain shows troops what is up ahead: On secure touch-screens, soldiers are given updates on troop positions - friendly ones marked in blue and hostile ones in red - in near real-time.

The battlefield management system links ground troops to their commanders at the headquarters and with the SAF's other fighting machines, such as Leopard tanks, artillery guns and attack helicopters.

An ST Kinetic team of 70 took the Terrex through more than 15,000km of trial runs here and in Turkey to test its tolerance of extreme weather.

Colonel Lim Hock Yu, the commander of 9th Division and the chief infantry officer, said these armoured vehicles were a key element in the military's ongoing transformation into a third-generation fighting force, which leverages on technology to put it on 'the sharp end of the fight'.

Dr Tim Huxley of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies noted that 'mechanised infantry' debuted in the First World War but was still key in modern war and peace-time operations.

'The pace of war is very fast. Operations that used to take weeks and months can now be wrapped up in days,' he said.

Members of the public can see the Terrex at the Army Open House from today. It will be launched by Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean on Saturday.

No comments: