Singapore boosts air defence with new missile system

SINGAPORE - Singapore's air defence will be beefed up with the acquisition of anew state-of-the-art missile system, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in Parliament yesterday.

The Aster-30 surface-to-air missile system - used by militaries such as those in France and Italy - will replace the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) I-Hawk system, which has been in service for 30 years.

Describing the new ground-based air-defence system as "many times more potent" than its predecessor, Dr Ng said it has the ability to engage multiple air threats simultaneously and from a longer distance.

The Aster-30 is developed in France by missile-system maker MBDA, and can tackle threats, such as fighter planes, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and precision-guided munitions.

The medium-range weapon will be part of a "multi-layered" air-defence system, with the Gulfstream-550 Airborne Early Warning aircraft at the outer perimeter, and the mobile Spyder surface-to-air missile system covering a shorter range.

While giving an overview of the plans to build a "comprehensive shield" protecting Singapore against airborne threats, Dr Ng said that the move to relocate Paya Lebar Airbase will not compromise security.

He said the Defence Ministry and Singapore Armed Forces conducted a thorough assessment in 2011 of Singapore's defence capabilities and security threats in the long term, and were satisfied that RSAF's ability to safeguard Singapore's skies would not be compromised.

Existing airbases at Changi East and Tengah will be expanded to accommodate the relocated airbase assets, he added.

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