IMDEX 19: ST Engineering unveils latest Vanguard combatant variant

By Luca Peruzzi

The marine division of ST Engineering has unveiled the latest generation of its Vanguard series of modular surface vessels during the IMDEX 2019 marine and defence exhibition.

The Vanguard 130 Multi-Role Combatant, – as the latest of five classes of vessels (Vanguard 80, 95, 105 and 120 meters variants) that delivers multi-modular capabilities with one design has been identified by ST Engineering based on its length -, has been optimized for manned and unmanned vehicle teaming operations with highly configurable mission bays and enhanced situational awareness with integrated mast as well as advanced ship, autonomous vehicle and availability-based integrated management systems.

Based on the ‘One Design’ Vanguard series design concept focus, which can be applied across ‘multiple classes’ with ‘modular capabilities’, the Vanguard 130 is based on the ‘one proven’ advanced parent hull form’ which has been extensively test and optimized for latest variant dimensions and requirements, together with commonalities in system design including main propulsion and auxiliary system, electrical power supply, navigation, communications,  integrated platform management system, with the addition of latest technologies and technical solutions. According to the presentation provided by ST Engineering, the Vanguard family platform features a CODAD/CODOE with controllable pitch propellers (CPP) hybrid propulsion system based on 4×8 MW propulsion diesel engines and 2×1.5 MW electrical motor/shaft generator in addition to 4×1.5 MW diesel generators providing lower acoustic, operational and maintenance costs in addition to increase survivability.

Thanks to its multi-role capability, the Vanguard series offers a highly operable platform in high sea states for the stowage and operation of unmanned vessels and vehicles for enhanced reach and visibility. Under development from about two years, the 130 meters long and 18 meters large Vanguard 130 variant has been optimized for manned and unmanned teaming operations with three main highly configurable bays to cater to different mission and operational requirements in the mid- and stern- platform areas. The three bays area are respectively accommodated under the stern flight deck with two launch and recovery stations for two rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) and unmanned surface vessels utilizing the ST Engineering’s patented Q-LARS 2.0 launch and recovery system, on the port and starboard sides of the helicopter hangar with flushed (side) doors to support the delivery (also with Q-LARS 2.0) of ROVs & AUVs and amidships, where surface-to-surface missiles and 20 ISO containers can find accommodation. The under-flight deck area has also side-hull opening doors and flexible moving payloads system to accommodate additional 20 ISO containers mission modules (8 in total in the various areas) or other materiel. According to information provided by ST Engineering representatives during IMDEX 2019, the new Vanguard 130 platform has been designed to accommodate the latest 18-meters Swift under development and unveiled by ST Engineering during the same exhibition, as shown on the Vanguard 130 side-hull stations rendering, as well as the already available and in operations Venus 16-meters unmanned surface vessel model.  The Vanguard 130 variant also features a 15-ton helicopter flight deck and hangar capable to also accommodate and operate unmanned air vehicles. In addition to USVs, the Vanguard 130 can carry also antisubmarine and underwater operations including mine-countermeasures missions thanks to a variable depth sonar module as well as the mission payload carried by both surface and underwater manned/unmanned and ROV systems.

The new platform also presents a new-generation in-house developed integrated modular mast (IMM) system with reduced radar cross-section features capable to accommodate a range of sensors including radars, electronic warfare and ST Engineering new naval SPEOS 360 infra-red situational awareness and tracking system. Thanks to its modular and scalable combat and integrated platform management system, the Vanguard 130 can accommodate third parties’ combat management system, sensors and weapon systems.  Based on the presentation provided by ST Engineering during the exhibition, the Vanguard 130 variant features a typical shipboard combat system including a sensors package based on the integrated modular mast with phased array radar systems, ESM and IRST, in addition to ST Engineering integrated communication system (SuperneT), fire-control radar, electro-optic director and variable depth sonar together with an armament and self-protection package including a 76/62 mm naval gun, surface-to-air missile vertical launch system (rendering shows up to 38 cells but its depends on requirements and missile payload), two-30 mm remotely controlled and two-12.7 mm guns in addition to smaller machine-guns, surface-to-surface missile launchers, two-chaff/IR/jammer decoy launchers and two-anti torpedo decoy launchers, as well as the 15-ton helicopter and unmanned surface and air systems capabilities.

The Vanguard 130 has been unveiled against the background of requirements the Singapore Ministry of Defence has outlined for future similar type of vessel known MRCV (Multi-role Combat Vessel), EDR online understood. ST Engineering however hasn’t commented or elaborated on the topic.

To further reduced the ship manning and enhance on-board systems efficiency and availability, ST Engineering has further developed and expanded its ship-management and mission modular ecosystem product portfolio. Leveraging on the company’s NERVA ship management system and the data that can be collected from the suite, ST Engineering has developed a Sensemaking system known as SMS2, which incorporates data and predictive diagnostics on platform systems. The SMS2 also comes with a Decision Support System which provides ship operators with possible solutions to the commander and crew of the vessel for better decision making.  The complexity of multi-mission modularity will require intelligent management and instruments to endure the operational readiness of the platform and the payloads. The company unveiled the Availability Integrated Management System (AiMS), which is a maintenance management system which provides users with a single glance overall engineering  and logistics situation awareness, as well as the Universal Interface Guard (uGuard) which is used to securely link the various containerized payloads to the platform combat systems to realize a plug and use concept, and the Intelligent safety/security monitoring , alert responding and tracking system (iSMARTS) for the smart tracking of ship crew and logistics. The ST Engineering has also emphasized the company’s activities and tolls to provide the shipborne cyber security, with the development of a holistic solution through security by design to combat evolving cyberthreats, and a complete package of solutions to potential customers.

Pictorials courtesy ST Engineering