Singapore buys six combat vessels that can serve as drone motherships
Singapore has hired a local company to build multirole combat vessels for its Navy, with several foreign defense contractors set to benefit from related work.
ST Engineering announced its subsidiary ST Engineering Marine won a contract “for the detailed design and construction of six Multi-Role Combat Vessels (MRCVs) for the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN).”
The company added in a news release that it “will be responsible for the procurement and integration of the platform equipment and [Ministry of Defence-]furnished equipment.”
The defense contract also said it will build the six vessels at its local facilities, and deliver them progressively from 2028 onward. The value of the contract was not disclosed.
ST Engineering is believed to have offered its Vanguard 130 multirole combatant, although Naval News reported that the vessels will be based on the Iver Huitfeldt and Absalon frigate designs by Denmark’s Odense Maritime Technology. The report also said the ships will likely be fitted with Thales’ Sea Fire radar and MBDA’s Aster and VL Mica surface-to-air missiles.
Both Danish designs measure about 137 meters (449 feet) long, with a 19-meter (62-foot) beam.
Thales has an agreement with Singapore’s Defence Science and Technology Agency to facilitate upgrades to radars used by the country and to address future needs.
The agency also signed a memorandum of understanding with Swedish company Saab to partner on the multirole combat vessels in the fields of artificial intelligence and data analytics, according to an announcement by the agency on the sidelines of a defense technology summit held in Singapore last week.
Saab has been extensively involved with Singaporean naval programs, including the design and manufacture of the integrated bridge on Independence-class littoral mission vessels.
The Republic of Singapore Navy already operates the Aster and VL Mica weapons from existing ships, and the Army uses a land-based version of the Aster.
Singapore said the new vessels are to replace six 62-meter Victory-class missile corvettes. However, the ships on order will be larger and more capable than the corvettes.
Infographics and statements previously released by the Defence Ministry indicated that in addition to standard combat roles, the combat vessels will be designed for quick configuration depending on the mission, including the capability to act as a force multiplier by serving as a mothership for unmanned air, surface and underwater vehicles.
The multirole combat vessels will also feature extensive automation to reduce the ships’ crew size, which is in line with typical Navy requirements.
The Southeast Asian island has also declared its intention to acquire more naval platforms, including new amphibious ships to replace four Endurance-class landing platform docks and offshore patrol vessels.