Last week, Singapore had its first public unveiling of its new armored fighting vehicle at its national day celebrations. While the unveiling was a scheduled development, it nonetheless highlighted one of several aspects of the country’s efforts to message the ongoing modernization of its military capabilities.
As I have noted before in these pages, one of the ongoing efforts of the modernization of Singapore’s Armed Forces is the gradual replacement of the aging Ultra M113 Armored Fighting Vehicles (AFV), which had been in service since the 1970s. As part of this effort, a new vehicle, dubbed the Hunter AFV, had been under development by the Defense Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) along with Singapore Technologies Engineering, and it was finally commissioned on June 11 as part of the Armor Formation’s 50th anniversary parade at Sungei Gadong Camp.
The Hunter AFV represents a significant boost relative to the Ultra 113 AFVs, and Singapore’s defense ministry (MINDEF) has noted some of the ways in which this is the case, including increased speed and operating range, enhanced, lethality, enhanced C4 and network capabilities, enhanced survivability and mobility, full digitization, potential integration with other unmanned platforms as well. And when it was commissioned, Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen had suggested that this significant capability would be put on show for Singaporeans at national day celebrations this year, which occur as Singapore commemorates its bicentennial as well.
Last week, this aspect of Singapore’s defense was in the headlines again with its first National Day display. As Ng had earlier indicated, the AFV was displayed as part of a mobile column designed to showcase defense equipment and platforms at the country’s national day parade which occurred on August 9.
Per media reports, three Hunter AFVs were displayed along with over 170 other assets from Singapore’s security services during the National Day celebrations, including Leopard tanks and Terrex infantry carrier vehicles. This was in line with broader mobile column activities this year, with expanded interactions including a foray into the heartlands to get a wider reach into the broader Singapore population in commemorating the 50th anniversary since the first column was displayed back in 1969.
With the National Day display having now occurred, the focus will shift onto where the Hunter AFVs are next expected to feature for Singapore through the rest of 2019 and into 2020 as well. Ng had earlier mentioned that it would be featured in exercises and training engagements that Singapore holds, remarking that he expected the Hunter AFV to make “overseas hunting expeditions to Australia and other training grounds.”