SINGAPORE - The relocation of Paya Lebar Airbase will be costly, but will yield "billion dollars' worth of positive returns" to Singapore, Dr Ng Eng Hen said in Parliament today.
Defence Minister Ng was responding to Nee Soon GRC MP Lim Wee Kiak on his question regarding the operational readiness of the planned relocation of Paya Lebar Airbase to Changi East.
Here is Dr Ng's full speech:
Madam Speaker, the member Mr Lim Wee Kiak has asked a highly relevant question as the relocation of Paya Lebar Airbase (PLAB) must never compromise the ability of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) to safeguard Singapore's security and sovereignty.
Indeed, this was the over-riding and primary consideration when MINDEF and the SAF studied the possibility of relocating PLAB. We were mindful that the current capabilities of the RSAF were achieved over four decades and remain critical to protect a small country like Singapore which lacks strategic depth.
The RSAF's superior air defence and strike capabilities have been built up through prudent and steady investments of resources and land allocation for our defence needs. And over the years, we have acquired, adapted and developed advanced technologies and state-of-the-art platforms to provide more accurate and timely early warning and situational awareness of potential threats. We will continue to invest in these capabilities.
In particular, the RSAF is putting into place a state-of-art multi-layered Island Air Defence System to provide a comprehensive shield protecting Singapore against airborne threats. This includes at the outer perimeter, our existing Gulfstream-550 Airborne Early Warning aircraft, which replaced our E2C in 2012, and significantly enhanced our early warning and air defence capabilities through its better endurance and longer range of detection.
I would like to announce today that the SAF will also be acquiring the ASTER-30 Surface-to-Air Missile System. This missile defence system against airborne threats is used by advanced militaries such as France and Italy. The ASTER-30's capabilities are many times more potent than our current I-HAWK ground-based air defence system. The ASTER will allow us to engage multiple threats simultaneously and from a longer distance. It will complement the SPYDER, which we have already operationalised - it is a mobile, shorter-range, quick reaction ground-based air defence system - and together, they will provide a layered air defence shield.
The RSAF will also be looking to upgrade its fighter fleet. We plan to upgrade our F-16s to modernise their avionics and extend their lifespan. Our F-15SGs were recently acquired and have proven themselves in recent multilateral military exercises with advanced Air Forces like those from the US and Australia during Exercise Cope Tiger and Exercise Pitch Black. Also, as announced at the Committee of Supply in March this year, we are evaluating the suitability of advanced multi-role F-35 Joint Strike Fighters in meeting our long-term security needs to further modernise our fighter fleet and replace our older aircraft.
These advanced capabilities that I have mentioned have been built up through steady defence investments over the years, and have now provided the confidence for MINDEF and the SAF to consider relocating PLAB in the long term to meet national development needs.
In 2011, MINDEF and the SAF conducted a thorough assessment of our capabilities and security threats for the long term. We satisfied ourselves that our security would not be compromised and that relocation of PLAB could take place after existing airbases at Changi East (CAB) and Tengah (TAB) have been expanded to accommodate relocated assets and facilities.
The expansion of Changi Air Base and Tengah Air Base will be necessary to house relocated fighter and support squadrons as well as accommodate facilities currently housed in PLAB. As members would recognise, this undertaking is complex but the RSAF will use this opportunity to build anew through innovative operational concepts and advanced airbase designs, and this will enhance the effectiveness and resilience of our air bases. Newly expanded and improved airbases together with advanced fighter fleets protected by a multi-layered air defence shield will ensure that the RSAF maintains its deterrent edge and continues to be an effective and formidable Air Force.
PLAB's relocation will be a long-term and complex undertaking. MINDEF will be working closely with MND on the detailed planning and implementation of the relocation over the next two decades. Thank you.
SAF to buy Aster-30 surface-to-air missile system
Goh Chin Lian
SINGAPORE - The Singapore Armed Forces will buy a new Aster-30 surface-to-air missile system, to boost Singapore's air defence shield.
Announcing the acquisition on Monday in Parliament, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said advanced militaries in France and Italy use the new system, which is "many times more potent" than the current I-Hawk ground-based air defence system.
"The Aster will allow us to engage multiple threats simultaneously and from a longer distance," Dr Ng said, adding that the new system will complement a mobile and shorter-range ground-based air defence system known as Spyder.
He was responding to Nee Soon GRC MP Lim Wee Kiak on the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) operational readiness with the planned relocation of Paya Lebar Airbase to Changi East at around 2030. Dr Ng did not say how much the move, which was announced last month, would cost.
The RSAF is also looking to upgrade its fighter fleet, such as modernising the avionics system and extending the lifespan of the F-16s.
The advanced capabilities being built up gave Mindef and SAF the confidence to move Paya Lebar Airbase, following a 2011 study of capabilities and security threats for the long term, Dr Ng said.
"We satisfied ourselves that our security would not be compromised and that relocation of PLAB could take place after existing airbases at Changi East and Tengah have been expanded to accommodate relocated assets and facilities," he said.
He added that the move will be costly, but will yield "billion dollars' worth of positive returns to the people in Singapore" in terms of land released for development and the removal of height restrictions in the area.
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ASTER-30 Missile System and 3rd Generation Networked Air Defence System
1. The ASTER-30 Missile System is an all-weather, next generation Medium-range Surface-to-Air Missile (MSAM) system that will replace the I-HAWK1 system. It is part of the RSAF's on-going force renewal to enhance the 3rd Generation RSAF networked air defence capabilities to defend Singapore against a wide spectrum of air threats.
2. Details of ASTER-30's capabilities are outlined below:
a. Anti-Aircraft and Anti-Missile Capability. The ASTER-30 will have enhanced air defence capabilities as compared to the I-HAWK system. It is a versatile Ground-Based Air Defence (GBAD) system that is able to counter a wide spectrum of air threats ranging from fighters, helicopters, UAVs to precision-guided munitions.
b. Enhanced Awareness and Responsiveness. The ASTER-30 will be integrated into the RSAF's networked air defence system. This allows the ASTER-30 to tap the real-time integrated air situation picture collated by the RSAF's array of sensors, which will enhance awareness. The ASTER-30 is thus able to react promptly and effectively against threats.
c. Increased Effectiveness. The ASTER-30 will provide the RSAF with an extended engagement envelope of up to 70km against fighter aircraft. The ASTER-30 also has the ability to engage multiple air threats simultaneously.
3. Technical Specifications.
- a. Technical Name: ASTER-30 Missile System
- b. Developer: MBDA (France)
- c. Guidance: Active Radio Frequency (RF) seeker
- d. Maximum intercept range: 70km against fighter aircraft
- e. Maximum intercept altitude: 60,000ft (20km)
- f. Maximum speed: Mach 4.5 g. Weight: 450kg h. Length 5m
3rd Generation Networked Air Defence System 1. The RSAF's 3rd Generation Networked Air Defence (NAD) system (refer to Diagram 1 below) comprises an inter-connected suite of advanced sensors, Command & Control Systems and Weapon Systems. The sensors, such as the Gulfstream-550 Airborne Early Warning aircraft, detect and identify incoming air threats, thereby providing an integrated real-time air picture. The newly-acquired ASTER-30 and the SPYDER weapon systems offer us extended engagement ranges against airborne threats compared to the I-HAWK and RAPIER systems that they replace. The NAD system provides the RSAF with enhanced awareness, responsiveness, precision and resilience against a wide spectrum of aerial threats. Some components of the 3rd Generation NAD include:
a. The Gulfstream-550 Airborne Early Warning aircraft which the RSAF took delivery of in 2009 enhances the RSAF's early warning air defence capability. It provides better endurance and a more precise air situation picture to a range of more than 370km, enabling the RSAF to see farther and respond more effectively to various operational situations.
b. The SPYDER2 which the RSAF took delivery of in 2011, is a quick reaction surface-to-air missile system capable of engaging a wide spectrum of aerial threats including fighter aircraft and precision-guided munitions.
c. The ASTER-30 Missile System is a next generation Ground-Based air defence Medium-range Surface-to-Air Missile (MSAM) system that will replace the I-HAWK system. The ASTER-30 will provide the RSAF with an extended engagement envelope of up to 70km against fighter aircraft. The ASTER-30 also has the ability to engage multiple air threats simultaneously.