Singapore Picks SPYDER Air Defense System
By WENDELL MINNICK
SINGAPORE — Singapore will buy the SPYDER Short Range Mobile Air Defense System, produced by Israel-based Rafael, to replace the Singapore Air Force’s short-range air-defense missile system, a source here confirmed.
This is just one of several air-defense competitions in Southeast Asia, where such weapons are in growing demand.
The SPYDER will replace the Rapier Low Level Air Defense system, a clear-weather optical system consisting of a fire unit, optical tracker and generator.
“We are in final negotiations with Rafael for the system,” the source said.
Rafael did not respond to requests for comment. The announcement is expected imminently, said sources at the Singapore Airshow, held here Feb. 19-24.
Singapore issued the tender in December 2006, seeking a mobile air-defense system that could be integrated into its military network. The deadline was extended to April 2007 to maximize options for the competitors.
“It is not so much about the missile as it is about integration of new and expanded capabilities to address concern everybody has for asymmetrical threats,” a source said.
Sources at the show suggested that Rafael is offering Singapore the option of supplying the command-and-control and radar for the SPYDER. There was no offset requirement, but there is an expectation that there will be a technology transfer. And sources say there was “implied industrial participation” and that “somewhere and somehow ST Engineering will have some piece of this.” Sources said Singapore does not need independent force protection for expeditionary missions and that Singapore’s unique urban environment has to be taken into consideration, though it was not part of the requirement.
“One of the key advantages of the SPYDER system is we can detect air breathing targets, such as UAVs, glider bombs and aircraft, without any limitation. There is no system that can deal with these types of multiple threats,” said Joseph Horowitz, business director and marketing director, Air & Missile Defense Systems, Rafael.
The SPYDER comes in short- and medium-range versions. The short range version fires both the Derby Radar BVR Surface-to-Air Missile for short and medium range and the Python-5 Full Sphere Infrared Surface-to-Air Missile for very short range.
The SPYDER appears to have defeated two rivals.
U.K.-based MBDA Missile Systems proposed the Vertical Launch MICA Short Range Air Defence System, a fire-and-forget modular all-weather system mounted on a 5-ton truck.
“We are proposing long-term technology transfer cooperation with the Singapore authorities,” said Carol Reed, MBDA’s head of marketing and external communications.
“MBDA is looking forward to working with the Ministry of Defence and has been a longstanding partner. We supplied the Aster-15 [surface-to-air missile] for the new frigates [Formidable-class]. Historically, we have been working with the Singapore Armed Forces since the 1980s with the Rapier and Mistral.” Raytheon and Norwegian-based Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace teamed to pitch the Surface Launched Advanced Air-to-Air Missile system with a Kongsberg command-and-control unit.
“We have a very close teaming relationship going back 30 years,” said Kyrre Lohne, manager, marketing, Integrated Air Defence Systems, Kongsberg.
Lohne and Stephen Ladd, Raytheon senior manager, Business Solutions – Alliances, said, “We are waiting to hear the announcement.” “From a KDA/Raytheon perspective, the whole [Asia-Pacific] region is a rich air-defense opportunity environment,” Ladd said. “The asymmetrical threat is a growing concern while the region also worries about the larger global security threat and what that means to homeland security.”
Thales Pitches Air Defense
In Southeast Asia, air defense is seen as a growing priority.
Meanwhile, French systems company Thales has pitched its Starstreak multimission missile to two Asian countries looking to buy very short-range air-defense systems, said Alexandre de Juniac, chief executive of the air-systems division.
Chinese and Polish suppliers are contenders in one of the Asian competitions.
“It is in the mid- to final stage,” de Juniac said at the Singapore Airshow. He declined to name the countries.
Simmering regional tension and rising defense spending in the Asian region are the backdrop for Thales’ efforts to secure its first sale of the multimission Starstreak. Thales also hopes to find European buyers for the weapon, de Juniac said. The company has largely paid for development of the new version of the hypervelocity Starstreak from its own funds.
The multimission Starstreak is designed for use against both aircraft and armored vehicles.
The main sensor is based on optronics, rather than radar, to detect and track the target.
The vehicle-mounted weapon complies with requirements for deployed forces, de Juniac said. Expeditionary forces look for equipment that is easy to maintain and has a common logistics chain. The company hopes to win sales by offering a single system that protects against land and air threats with the same missile, while simplifying training and support needs.
Long-standing territorial jealousies have fueled security concerns in the region, with neighbors and near neighbors jockeying for marine and land resources.
Singapore and Malaysia have contested ownership of the island of Batu Puteh, while Indonesia has claimed the islands of Sipadan and Ligitan. The Philippines dispute ownership of the Malaysian territory Sabah.
In the region, Thailand is a prospect for a modern air-defense system but the political situation needs to stabilize before procurement decisions can be made, de Juniac said.
India is an important market for air-defense capabilities, marked by a strong demand for local industrial participation and transfer of technology. The challenge there was the long gestation time for decisions.
Thales has offered the Crotale Mk 3 extended-range missile linked to the Shikra radar to countries in North Africa, Arabian Gulf and Greece. The weapon has not been pitched in Asia so far. The hypervelocity Crotale missile has an extended range out to 50 kilometers from a previous 10-12 kilometers.
Singapore and Malaysia have arms ties to France. The DCNS has sold two Scorpene diesel-electric patrol submarines to Kuala Lumpur, while Singapore bought six Formidable-class frigates from the French naval company. The Defense Science and Technology Agency is integrating the combat systems. One defense executive said the integration seemed to be at basic level. Pierre Tran contributed to this report from Singapore.