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IMDEX Asia – Day 2

Monch provides an overview of key industry players and ships present at IMDEX Asia

Day 2 – Exhibition Floor
Controp Precision Technologies introduced its iSea-25HD compact, lightweight electro-optical/infra-red (EO/IR) payload, launched a mere 6 months ago. This system features a unique, advanced stabilisation system that enables a stable, continuous and uninterrupted line-of-sight (LOS) view, thus ensuring a very clear picture, even in the roughest of seas. The system is capable of interfacing with remote-controlled weapon stations, such as Rafael’s TYPHOON. The improved iSea-25HD payload has been designed in response to specific needs from an Asian client, and one in Africa.

SAAB’s strong presence at IMDEX 2019 underlined the company’s commitment to its growing business across the Asian region. The most prominent products displayed comprised the A26 submarine, the world’s most modern conventional submarine, and the Lightweight Torpedo (SLWT). Testing of the LWT is on going, with two prototypes now undergoing trials at the company’s purposefully designed facility in Sweden. The torpedo is being developed for the Swedish Navy – known as the Torpedo 47. First handover to the Swedish Navy is scheduled for 2023, to be deployed on its ‘Visby’ class corvettes, but it is also designed for use from the A26 and ‘Gotland’ class submarines and NH90 helicopters. The Finnish Navy is the first export customer. In January 2018 Finland selected the SLWT to equip its four ‘Hamina’ class fast attack craft and the new ‘Pohjanmaa’ (Squadron 2020) corvettes. The company also showcased its GlobalEye – a revolutionary multi-role airborne surveillance system, featuring the all-new ERIEYE ER radar, advanced C4I and multi-mission capabilities, uniquely combining the roles of airborne early warning and control, maritime patrol and ground surveillance, all in a single platform.

As a long-term partner of Singapore, Naval Group is strengthening its cooperation with the local industry by delivering the best technologies, driven by innovation and Research & Development (R&D) investments. Naval Group presented the ‘Start We Up’, which is to bring together local start-ups and Naval Group technical and commercial experts in order to foster open innovation. Selected start-ups will receive the opportunity to enter a paid Proof-of-Concept negotiation with Naval Group in order to support their innovative initiatives. Taking place on the 6th of June, this event will be divided into a plenary session during which companies will present their proposal. Through this initiative, Naval Group aims to change the traditional view of a linear innovation into a collaborative, systemic and horizontal logic. ‘Start We Up’ will create a stimulating environment for meetings and exchanges between innovative Singaporean businesses and Naval Group experts, aimed at creating synergies and to encourage creativity along with an innovative mind set. A R&D hub, to be launched next October, will be dedicated to research the latest innovative trends which are relevant to the defence sector.

Terma announced that it has won a contract to install its C-Series combat suite on the Indonesian Navy’s four KCR-60 class fast attack craft. The C-Suite will be retrofitted on boats three and four, replacing the Chinese systems originally fitted. The suite includes Terma’s C-Flex combat management system, Scanter 4603 X-band radar, C-Guard decoy launching system and C-Fire EO fire control system.

Security and Defence, a division of marine design and manufacturing OEM Ferretti Group, showcased its range fast patrol boats, including the 20m-long FSO 195. Weighing around 36tonnes, these boats can exceed 50kt with a range of over 800 kilometres. A combat version of the platform could transport a small number of Special Forces for assault and interdiction missions. One of the company’s strengths is its ability to leverage the work of Ferretti Group in the civil and commercial boat sector. The company is able to work with clients in tailoring the platform and solution to their needs, including payload options, such as remote weapon systems and sensors. For instance, FSD conducted tests with Leonardo‘s Hitrole 12.7mm RWS fitted to the FSD 195 and discussed with MBDA the possibility of fitting a Marte missile to the vessel. Other platforms displayed were the FSD 150, 245 and 350 fast patrol craft.

Lacroix, the countermeasures specialist for air, land and naval systems, focused on its SYLENA Mk2 decoy-launching system, the Seamosc module for optimal protection and adapted to modern vessel projects, including NextGen Seaclad munitions. The company also displays its ADRIAN (Anti-Drone Interception Acquisition and Neutralisation), an advanced anti-drone system, and is carrying out research and development activities to keep improving capabilities for any new maritime requirements. The system is based on multi-spectral sensors (radar, EO/IR, acoustic and radio link interceptor) data fusion for detection and identification functions.

Day 2 – Warships
The contingent of warships that formed the IMDEX Asia 2019 Warships Display in Changi Naval Base was quite impressive, with 20 warships from 14 navies joining 2 units from the host Navy[1].

The Royal Australian Navy was present with two units, the amphibious assault ship HMAS Canberra and the soon-to-be decommissioned frigate HMAS Newcastle. Both units are part of the 4-ship strong Indo-Pacific Endeavour 19 deployment, the Australian Defence Forces’ annual humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR)-focused engagement with countries in South and Southeast Asia. The group sailed from Fremantle on 11 March and, after visits to India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam, are due back home in July.

The Indian Navy was present with the destroyer INS Kolkata, the replenishment tanker INS Shakti and the Coast Guard’s ICS Vijaya offshore patrol vessel. The 163.95m long INS Kolkata is the lead ship of the three locally designed Project 15A type guided-missile destroyers, successors to the ‘Delhi’ class destroyers. The 7,292-tonne INS Kolkata mounts 16 BrahMos PJ-10 missiles, a 76 mm Oto Melara Super Rapid gun, four 30mm Russian AK-630 close-in weapon systems, two triple 533mm torpedo tunes, two 12-tube RBU-6000 SMERCH-2 rocket launchers, two 16-cell VLS for Israel Aerospace Industries Baron LR/8 and the locally designed CMS-15A combat management system. The 175m long INS Shakti is the second of the Indian Navy’s two ‘Deepak’ class replenishment tankers. The 27,941t vessel has a cargo capacity of 12,000t of fuel oil, 2,300t of AVCAT, 2,000t of fresh water, 1,000t of lubrication oil, 200t of ammunition and 150t of provisions and dry stores and can replenish up to four ships simultaneously. ICS Vijaya is the second of the Indian Coast Guard’s ‘Vikram’ class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) of which seven are planned. The 2,140t OPV, with a length of 97m, are used for coastal and offshore patrolling, policing India’s maritime zones, anti-smuggling and anti-piracy operations.

The Indonesia Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Laut, or TNI-AL) was represented by two KCR-60M missile attack craft, KRI Halasan and KRI Tombak. Displacing 460t, these 59.8m units are conceived as a ‘hit-and-run’ platform against larger surface combatants. The TNI-AL removed the twin Chinese C-705 missile launchers from the first two vessels KRI Sampari and KRI Tombak, and installed the Chinese-made Type 630 30mm CIWS and two 20mm machine guns. All the KCR-60M units are armed with a 40 mm Bofors cannon, salvaged from the decommissioned landing ship tank vessel, KRI Teluk Semangka, but will be equipped with the BAE Bofors Mk3 57 mm guns when funding becomes available.

One of the eye catchers was, without doubt, the Royal Thailand Navy‘s new frigate HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadejin, the first of two DW3000 type multipurpose frigates. Formerly known as HTMS Tachin, the frigate was renamed Bhumibol Adulyadejin in honour of the Thai monarch who died in October 2016. Based on the South Korean ‘Gwang Gae To Daewang’ (KDX-1) class destroyers, the 123m frigate displaces 3,650t and is armed with an Oto Melara 76mm 76/62 Super Rapid gun, a Vulcan Phalanx Block 1B CIWS, two MSI Defence Seahawk DS-30 30mm guns, two quadruple RGM-84L Harpoon Block II launchers, two SEA 324mm triple torpedo tubes for Mk 44 and Mk 46 torpedoes and an 8-cell Mk41 VLS for Raytheon RIM-162 ESSM.

The host navy displayed the RSS Formidable, lead ship of the navy’s six-ship strong ‘Formidable’ class frigates based on the French ‘La Fayette’ class, and the locally designed and built RSS Fortitude, the sixth Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV). RSS Fortitude is assigned to the RSN’s 182 Squadron – the operational component of the Singapore Armed Forces’ Maritime Security Task Force tasked to protect Singapore’s SLOCs in the Malacca Strait. The 1250t LMVs are versatile warships, capable to carry out a wide range of missions.

The Bangladesh Navy was represented by its C13B class corvette BNS Shadhinota, a variant of the Chinese Type-056. BNS Shadhinota was inducted into the fleet on 19 March 2016, together with her sister ship BNS Prottoy. Two additional units, BNS Prottasha and BNS Shongram, were handed over to the Bangladesh Navy on 3 April 2019. Displacing some 1330t, these 90m long corvettes are fitted with a 76mm H/PJ-26 gun, two 30 mm H/PJ-17-1 close-in weapon systems, an eight-cell FL-3000N launcher for short-range, surface-to-air missiles, four C-802 (YJ-83) surface-to-surface missiles, a flight deck for a medium-sized helicopter and they feature an SR2410C 3D multifunction phased-array radar.

Another noteworthy participant was the Myanmar Navy with its frigates UMS Kyansitthar and UMS Sin Phyu Shin. These units are a significant milestone in Myanmar’s fast-developing programme to develop a blue-water capability to protect its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and offshore energy interests. The 118m frigates, displacing some 3000t, are locally built but the hulls were purchased from China. Unlike first-of-class UMS Aung Zeya, these second and third ships are 10m longer and feature a stealthy superstructure with two masts, a helicopter hangar and feature two quad box launchers for Chinese C-802 family of anti-ship missiles.

The Royal Brunei Navy deployed its fourth (and final) ‘Darussalam’ (OPV 80) class offshore patrol vessel KDB Daruttaqwa. This class replaces the three ‘Waspada’ class fast attack craft that were in service since 1978. The 1,625t KDB Daruttaqwa differs from its sister ships by mounting a 27mm gun instead of the 20 mm gun. Prominent features of the OPVs are the large helicopter platform and the stern ramp for launching and recovering a 10m RHIB.

The Sri Lankan Navy deployed the OPV SLNS Samudra (ex-USCGC Courageous). The 1,147t and 64.2m long ship, transferred on 26 April 2004, mounts one Bofors 40mm/60 gun, four 14.5mm and six 12.7mm machine guns.

The Japanese Maritime Defence Force’s (JMSDF) sent its largest naval vessel – the helicopter carrier JDS Izumo, accompanied by the destroyer JS Murasame. Singapore was one of the ports both ships are visiting during their 3-month Indo-Pacific Deployment 2019 which kicked-off on 30 April. Other ports of call include Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, before the ships are returning to their homeport Yokosuka on 10 July.

The Chinese Navy took part with the ‘Jiang Kai II’ class (Type 054A) frigate PLAN Xiangan, These 134m long frigates are the blue water workhorses of the PLAN and are regularly deployed on anti-piracy missions in and beyond the Indian Ocean Region.

The Philippine Navy 3,350t BRP Andres Bonifacio, recommissioned on 21 July 2016, is the former ‘Hamilton’ class high endurance cutter USCGC Boutwell, which entered service in June 1968. Retired from USCG in March 2016, she was transferred to the PN in November 2016.

The US Navy displayed the ‘Arleigh Burke Flight IIA’ class destroyer USS William P. Laurence. At 9,425t, the 155.3m the Flight IIAs are receiving an extensive mid-life upgrade in order to provide commonality with the newer ‘Burke’ class DDGs, i.e. digital video surveillance systems, Integrated Bridge Navigation System and giga-ethernet connectivity in their engineering plants.

The Republic of South Korea sent the ROKNS Wang Geon, third of the 6-ship strong KDX-II class destroyers. These 150m long destroyers, displacing some 5,588t, regularly deploy to the Indian Ocean in support of the counter-piracy operations.

Another eye-catching visitor was the Vietnamese Navy’s Gepard 3.9 (Project 11661E ) frigate VPN Quang Trung. In contrast to the first- and second-of-class, which mount 2 quad missile launchers, the third and fourth units feature 2 twin launchers. The Vietnamese Navy will acquire another two of these frigates.

Guy Toremans

[1] Australia (2), Bangladesh (1), Brunei (1), China (1), India (3), Indonesia (2), Japan (2), Myanmar (2), Philippines (1), Singapore (2), Sri Lanka (1), Thailand (1), USA (1) and Vietnam (2)

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