Big Ideas, Big Dreams; ST Engineering Has Enjoyed Decade of Growth
By WENDELL MINNICK SINGAPORE — ST Engineering has undergone phenomenal growth since it was launched in December 1997 with the merger of four publicly listed companies — ST Aerospace, ST Electronics, ST Automotive and ST Marine — into what was then called Singapore Technologies (ST) Group.
The acquisition of another group of companies based in this Southeast Asian citystate in 2000 led to the formation of a larger group with the current title. Consisting of aerospace, electronics, land systems and marine sectors, ST Engineering has a global footprint of 20 countries and 35 cities.
VT Systems, ST Engineering’s U.S. headquarters in Alexandria, Va., has expanded the group’s access to new technologies and provided substantive growth, said Patrick Choy, ST Engineering’s executive vice president for international marketing.
And to exploit emerging opportunities in the defense field, the group is pooling top personnel and resources from its four sectors.
Choy said that “about 30 percent of our business is defense and 70 percent is commercial. Both are growing at a healthy rate.” Dean Lockwood, an analyst with Forecast International, Newtown, Conn., said that over the last 10 years, “in terms of individual programs, their small arms programs have done well, and their vehicle programs have done moderately well.” As for ST Engineering’s prospects over the next five years, “in terms of small arms, they have some real opportunities in the international market,” Lockwood said. “They have innovative designs in ... machine guns, infantry weapons and grenade launchers.
“Regionally, it is wide open for them in East Asia.
DEFENDING A MINISTATE
ST Engineering’s defense activities range from building warships for Singapore’s Navy, maintaining Army weapons and modernizing Air Force C-130s.
Performance by Sector
With $1.6 billion in revenue in 2006, the Aerospace sector’s main capabilities include maintenance, modification, components and total engine support for civil and military aircraft.
The Electronics sector, which reported $951 million in revenue in 2006, offers combat systems integration, information security, mobile and homeland security systems, satellite communications and electro-optics gear. In 2006, the Electronics sector launched a battlefield management system, commissioned by the Singapore Armed Forces for the island nation’s third-generation networked fighting force, on the Bionix II armored vehicle.
With $1 billion in revenue in 2006, the Land Systems sector’s main capabilities include multirole military platforms, weapon systems and advanced munitions, surveillance, remote operations and vehicle fleet management systems.
Land Systems offers defense products that enable network-centricity and increased connectivity, and it is one of the few manufacturers that provides both 40mm weapons and a wide range of ammunition.
With $702 million in 2006 revenue, the Marine sector offers ship upgrading and conversion, custom-built naval and commercial vessels using in-house computeraided design facilities, stealth technology, and overhaul and maintenance of high-performance marine engines.
In 2006, the Marine sector delivered to the Republic of Singapore Navy a pair of locally built, 114-meter-long frigates, the RSS Intrepid and RSS Steadfast, as part of a technology transfer deal with French shipbuilder DCN to build six 3,200-ton frigates for the Navy. DCN built the first frigate, the Formidable, in France, with the remaining five built by ST Marine.
The Formidable was commissioned last May. The Intrepid, Steadfast and RSS Tenacious were commissioned Feb. 5. The Stalwart and the Supreme, ST Marine’s final two frigates, will be commissioned next year.
For ST Engineering, 2007 brought a bumper crop. In February, ST Aerospace Engines won a $5.4 million contract from the Brazilian Air Force for the overhaul of 12 Rolls-Royce T56-A-15 engines for the service’s C-130 transport planes. Also in February, ST announced that its Land Systems arm won a $13 million contract to maintain weapons for Singapore’s Army.
The company announced last March that ST Marine won a $400 million contract to provide a ship and submarine rescue system to the city-state’s Navy. Also in March, the company signed a $20 million contract with Singapore’s Ministry of Defence to maintain electrooptical equipment for the military.
The same month, ST Aerospace signed two contracts with Singapore’s Air Force totaling $393 million — the first for the modernization of the C-130 transport fleet, and the other for support of the service’s 16 A-4SU/TA-4SU Skyhawk aircraft.
Search for Approaches
ST Engineering also has launched a Defense Business Group that includes representatives from all four sectors, to exploit emerging trends in the defense field.
The Defense Business Group “looks at implementation of the [company’s] key programs,” Choy said. “So when there are programs that involve more than one sector, this group will come into play and help integrate and ensure the programs are properly implemented and executed.” The group will provide a “special management focus for defense business and look at new technology and services which we can create ... for our customers,” he said. “We need to think three steps ahead of our customers, so when they come to us and say they have a requirement, we don’t just look at fulfilling just what they want. We also provide options.” Choy pointed to a new concept developed by the group, dubbed Defensphere. It combines urban operations, force networking, perimeter security and force modernization. He described the Defensphere battle management system as a “holistic concept to meet the needs of today’s modern armed forces, spanning land, air and sea.
“Defensphere represents the integration of all elements of a tactical light unit with mobility, lethality, survivability as key features and supported by modern technologies — automation, robotics and network-centric capabilities,” Choy added.
“Defensphere delivers the autonomy, integrity, effectiveness and persistence demanded of the future force.”