The Republic of Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) opened its Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Command (UC) on May 25, the second of five new commands planned for a restructured air force.
The command is to be outfitted with Hermes 450 UAVs built by Israel-based Elbit Systems. The Hermes 450 will form the newly established 116 Squadron and join the 128 Squadron, which operates 40 Searcher UAVs at Murai Camp.
The Searchers were purchased in 1998 from Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) to replace aging IAI Scout remotely piloted vehicles procured in 1984, which in turn had replaced the Mastiff RPVs acquired in 1978 from Tadiran Israel Electronic Industries.
At the Murai Camp ceremony, Singapore Defense Minister Teo Chee Hean said the Hermes 450 would serve all three branches of the SAF.
“The UAV Command has been constituted as an integrated entity, with personnel from the three services, as well as from the Joint Staff. This allows UAV-borne capabilities to be effectively integrated and optimized for use when needed by forces from all the three services,” Teo said. “The UAV command serves the whole of the SAF.”
The restructuring of Air Force commands began in January with the creation of the Air Defense and Operations Command (ADOC). In addition to the UAV command, the others will be Air Combat Command, Participation Command and the Air Power Generation Command. Restructuring is expected to be complete by mid-2008, said a SAF press release.
Both Elbit and Singapore’s Ministry of Defense declined to comment on the sale and it is unclear how many Hermes 450 UAVs the SAF has procured. However, sources have verified that this is Elbit’s second-largest export package for the Hermes 450, the first being the United Kingdom’s Watchkeeper UAV Program in 2005.