Newsmakers: Patrick Choy, Executive VP of International Marketing, ST Engineering
Singapore’s leading defense manufacturer, Singapore Technology (ST) Engineering, has been expanding into the world market, securing sales to Britain of the new Warthog Bronco all-terrain tracked carrier and developing more sophisticated unmanned systems. ST Engineering is actually a group divided into four sectors: ST Aerospace, ST Electronics, ST Land Systems (also called ST Kinetics) and ST Marine.
Q. Where do you see ST Engineering going in the next few years in defense exports?
A. We see new opportunities in heightened security needs and the transformation of the Army in areas such as homeland security, disaster relief, intelligent systems, unmanned technologies, solutions for greater connectivity, precision capabilities and less-than-lethal solutions.
Q. Do you see the world defense export market shrinking as national budgets continue to be cut because of the recession?
A. The trend of reduced defense spending is likely to continue, but this does not mean that the role of the armed forces and their capabilities are reduced. Conflicts and territorial disputes still exist, and armed forces must now find new approaches, innovative ways to perform their roles. Smaller budgets would mean fewer capital buys, and this could give rise to new requirements for upgrades and retrofitting of existing equipment; new capabilities that can be added to existing equipment; and reducing the logistics/manpower through automation and robotics for “dull, dirty and dangerous” tasks.
Military operations, as we know it, have also changed. There is increasing involvement by armed forces in new areas, such as homeland security and disaster relief.
Q. Did the U.K. sale affect ST’s confidence?
A. Warthog was a breakthrough for ST Engineering as it is the first time a major world army has procured armored combat vehicles from Southeast Asia. The contract has also raised the overall profile of ST Engineering as a credible defense player in the global marketplace.
Q. What changes have been instituted to explain this success and what are the challenges for the future?
A. The challenges facing today’s forces are increasingly diverse and complex, require a multidisciplinary and multi-organizational approach. Leveraging our unique position to provide commercial and defense customers with solutions for air, land and sea, ST Engineering is able to look at the needs of our customers holistically, integrated across platform and system domains, to provide cutting-edge system-centric solutions.
Q. Is ST Engineering working on any new products that excite you?
A. Last month, Skyblade III, Singapore’s first locally developed mini UAV, was used for the first time by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) in an operational exercise. The Skyblade III was created through collaboration between the SAF, the DSO National Laboratories, ST Aerospace and the Defense Science and Technology Agency.
Another unmanned innovation is the Venus unmanned surface vehicle, a 9-meter vessel adaptable to fulfilling the needs of a range of naval and security missions. Its modular design concept enables multiple missions through different payload modules.
The Endurance series of Landing Platform Docks is a multipurpose and multirole ship, purposefully designed for naval and civilian operations.
By Wendell Minnick in Taipei.