By Joseph Roukoz
The 20th biannual IMDEX Asia 2017, that took place at the Changi Exhibition Centre in Singapore from 16-18 June, was a successful event due to its organization and an increased number of companies attending compared to those that participated previously (230 companies from 22 countries, more than 50 delegations from Asia and the region and more than 10,000 visitors, according to the organizers).
|The Minister of Defense Singapore Dr. Ng Eng Hen reading his speech during the opening of IMDEX Asia 2017.
|The Minister of Défence Dr. Ng Eng Hen visting the show.
IMDEX Asia is an international maritime defence show taking place in Asia Pacific, which comprises an exhibition, strategic conferences and warship displays. It has gained recognition as a global platform to address the issues within the naval and maritime security industry, showcasing the latest naval technologies and connecting key players from navies, government and industry.
During the opening by the Defense Minister of Singapore, Mr Ng Eng Hen, it was announced that the Singapore Navy will acquire two more Type 218SG diesel-electric submarines in addition to the two that have already been ordered, thus making it four in total.
At IMDEX Asia 2017, Thales showcased its state-of-the-art innovations in its Autonomous Underwater and Surface System (AUSS) for the first time in Asia-Pacific, and the SEA FIRE radar.
This unmanned maritime system concept (AUSS) is quite different from anything that has ever existed before. The platform was developed by Thales with 19 SMEs and combines a whole host of technological breakthroughs. The autonomous vehicle can operate in complete discretion under the water as well as on the surface. The system actively-avoids obstacles and performs safely and reliably even in shallow waters around port facilities. It is designed for civil as well for military missions, including surveillance, intelligence gathering, counter- terrorism, mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), monitoring of offshore oil and gas facilities and shipwreck search and recovery. After a series of tests, potential customers showed a great deal of interest in the new hybrid drone concept when it was unveiled at Euronaval 2016.
The next generation of the Thales SEA FIRE is an all-digital radar with four flat-panel arrays, that meets the requirements of a broad range of missions, from ship self-defence to extended air defence. SEA FIRE is designed to perform in the complex conditions of the littoral or in heavily jammed environments to counter conventional, asymmetric or emerging air and surface threats. The French Defence Ministry announced on 21 April a contract with DCNS for the development and construction of five intermediate-size frigates (FTIs) intended for the French Navy, for delivery in 2023 with entry into active service in 2025. DCNS are proposing a French version of its new BELH@RRA frigate intended for the international market, equipped with the new SEA FIRE radar.
MBDA showcased at IMDEX 2017 the Sea Viper Weapon System, which had received a £175 million contract from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for further in-Service Support to the Sea Viper weapon System, securing a key capability of the Type 45 fleet in April 2017.
This contract will cover in Period 1, the continuing in-service support to the Sea Viper system, including the Aster missile that protects the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers, for the next five years. The unified support environment (USE) provides in-service support to UK MoD Weapon Systems and Missiles in a portfolio environment. The USE approach is designed to reduce support workload and administrative costs and has already been successfully applied to several other MBDA programmes, including ASRAAM, Brimstone and Storm Shadow.
In January 2005 DCNS opened an office in Singapore and DCNS Far East signed a contract in January 2016 with the Singaporean Navy for the supply of spare part kits for the major maintenance of the six Formidable-class frigates, today considered as the most advanced close cooperation with local shipyard Singapore Technology Marine : while the first frigate was built in DCNS shipyard in Lorient (France), the other five were built in Singapore, through a full transfer of technology.. It has improved its service offering with the installation of a floating security barrier in Singapore’s naval base in 2012. The purpose of this barrier is to ensure the safety of military vessels against a possible attack by sea. Since then, the subsidiary has been in charge of the maintenance and operations of this barrier.
DCNS have been developed since, by the deployment of new activities to serve the civilian customers and in particular the underwater inspection by remotely operated vessels (ROV). These submarine robots allow underwater inspections of structures in diversified fields such as oil and gas, port infrastructures, ships, etc. Since 2013, DCNS Far East has already carried out some thirty submarine inspection projects in Singapore but also more widely in Asia.
The Series 30 SOM Search Optronic Mast dedicated to conventional or nuclear submarines was present in the SAFRAN booth at IMDEX Asia 2017. It is the most modern stealthy and complete search optronic mast system. Modular and highly reliable, the non-hull penetrating mast can simultaneously accommodate up to four advanced optronic channels and a full range of the electromagnetic antenna. In addition to its advanced anti-surface search capabilities, it can function in automatic aerial alarm mode, make use of a laser, receive telecommunications and use an ESM electronic warfare sensor.
SAFRAN also showed the new Series 30 AOM (based on Series 30 SOM), which is a very discreet non-penetrating attack optronic mast. Perfectly suited to all types of submarines it can simultaneously combine up to four optronic sensors and an ESM/GPS antenna. The Series 30 AOM features very low signature thanks to its extremely small volume above the water and its fully digital technology allows a high level of optronic performance.
SAFRAN also presented EUROFLIR 410SP which incorporated up to 7 high-performance sensors, a latest-generation thermal imager, HDTV colour zoom camera, multi-channel spotter with colour HD TV sensor and low-light level TV or short-range infrared range (SWIR) sensor, laser rangefinder, laser pointer and laser illuminator as an option.
Under the French pavilion lead it by the GICAN, an important number of PME was present like DCI, LACROIX and others. In the booth of CNIM at IMDEX Asia, 2017 could be seen on a TV screen a movie showcasing the company’s L-CAT Ship to Shore landing craft, a combat proven vessel, in service in the French Navy since 2011 and the Egyptian Navy since 2016. It expands the strategic capabilities of major amphibious units and increases the tactical options of expeditionary forces in all their missions. Embarked on an LSD ship it can carry up to 80 tonnes, that is either a tank or any armoured vehicles or soldiers with their equipment. Its speed loaded is 18 knots and 30 knots when empty.
The L-CAT Shore to Shore is a key enabler of force projection on a regional scale and is suitable for a stand-alone long-range amphibious, disaster relief and maritime security operation. It is a small vessel, protected by its own embedded weapon system. It may be interesting for countries that have Islands to defend such as Japan, Philippines, Vietnam and Australia. It can carry up to 100 tonnes, 60 soldiers with their equipment for 24 hours, one tank, or four armoured vehicles like the VBCI or any amphibious vehicle, anti-submarine warfare or disaster relief and logistics equipment. Its loaded speed is 15 Knots and empty 22 knots.
Bertin, a subsidiary of CNIM, showcased on its side the FusionSight, a lightweight Night and Day vision enhancer combining two viewing modes, based on low light colour and thermal cameras. These can be used separately or in smart fusion. Especially developed to meet the Infantry chiefs and special forces requirements, this reliable hand device is efficient on the field during operations helping to spot hidden and camouflaged enemies.
At IMDEX Asia 2017 Ixblue showcased its autonomous navigation capabilities including the M7 as its most popular system. The Marins series allows stealthy autonomous navigation for submarines, providing accurate heading roll, pitch, speed and position. These products can also meet a naval surface vessel navigation requirement when operating under challenged global navigation satellite system (GNSS) conditions.
ST Engineering highlighted three unmanned products at IMDEX Asia 2017, the Mercury AUV, Venus family of USVs and a conceptual long-endurance SV. This latter new system is called the long Endurance Unmanned Surface vessel (LEUSV). It is a 45m-long craft equipped with advanced autonomy technologies. Boasting an intelligent power management system to give a 28-day endurance, it also employs computational fluid dynamic techniques for greater speed, higher manoeuvrability and better seakeeping.
In conjunction with the DSO National Laboratories, ST engineering has also just completed R&D on its Mercury autonomous underwater (AUV). The info-communications systems have been revealed. Weighing less than 1 tonne, to enable lifting by a ship’s crane, this system is able to swim 300m underwater at 6kt and can perform mine countermeasures missions without endangering personnel. It can be also be configured for harbour security, search and salvage, environmental monitoring and scientific research. The Mercury consists of a nose cone module with collision avoidance sensor, payload section for Thales SAMDS high-frequency synthetic aperture sonar, the mission module for communication and navigation), and the battery and propulsion units.
BrahMos display in IMDEX Asia 2017 a supersonic cruise missile with a fine combination of speed precision and power, has three times more velocity, 2.5 to 3 times more flight Range 3 to 4 times more seeker range and nine times more kinetic energy than any existing subsonic cruise missiles. The multi-platform, multi-target cruise missile, carrying a conventional warhead weighing 200 to 300 kg, is capable of flying up to 290 km at a top speed of 2.8 Mach.
BrahMos showcasing also the naval version. These anti-ship variants of BrahMos have already been successfully developed and deployed by Indian Navy. Several south-East-Asian and Latin American countries want to BrahMos or have at least expressed interest in it, particularly for the naval and coastal defence versions.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) promoted at IMDEX 2017 its new HF over-the-horizon (OTH) radar, the ELM-2270 that provides a constant coastal OTH situational awareness picture of ranges of up to 270km., which provides the necessary coverage to monitor the boundaries of a country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The system transmits a wide-angle beam, covering 120° in azimuth, while the receiving section comprises one or more arrays of vertical antennas that provide instant coverage of the entire sector. The ELM-2270 provides detection of 1,500-ton ships within 370km, and low-flying aircraft within 130km. The radar has advanced noise cancellation, which includes ionosphere clutter, man-made and communication noise.