ROCKHAMPTON, Australia - One of the army's elite weapons, which is able to fire guided missiles and roar up steep hillsides, now comes with touchscreen monitors, text messaging, and an automatic gearbox.
The made-in-Singapore Light Strike Vehicle (LSV) Mark II, a more powerful and high-tech version of its ageing predecessor, was specially designed with the teenage full-time national serviceman in mind.
The idea was to allow them to master it with ease by "mimicking lifestyle devices" such as smartphones and the WhatsApp messaging app, said Lieutenant-Colonel Chua Chay, head of capability development at HQ Guards on Wednesday.
He was speaking in Queensland, Australia, where the LSV Mk II is being put through its paces in the ongoing Exercise Wallaby, the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) largest overseas exercise.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen officially commissioned the vehicle, which is the size of an sport utility vehicle, during his visit on Tuesday.
It can be primed with either the anti-tank Spike guided missile system or an automatic grenade launcher, to take down hostile armour units. It also boasts a general-purpose machine gun.
The onboard touchscreen battlefield management system allows crew to pinpoint enemy locations easily on digital maps. They can communicate more stealthily with base using a text messaging system instead of speaking through a radio system.
The automatic gearbox also means that young soldiers do not have to grapple with a manual transmission as in the original LSV, which came into service in 1998.
Dr Ng observed during Tuesday's live-firing demonstration how the LSV Mk II could be operated by NSFs as young as 19, with one of them firing a Spike missile at a target 4km away, hitting the bulls-eye the first time.