Army gets new and improved communications system to make faster, more accurate decisions

The Army's headquarters will be able to receive live updates through pictures, videos and texts sent by ground troops.
The Army's headquarters will be able to receive live updates through pictures, videos and texts sent by ground troops.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore's ground troops will soon be able to pinpoint and suppress their enemies faster and more accurately. This is through the Army's souped up communication systems, which will boast far greater bandwidth than before.

With the improved systems, the Army's headquarters will be able to receive live updates of situations on the ground through pictures, videos and texts sent by ground troops, which allow for quicker and more accurate decisions to be made.

On Friday (Mar 4), the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) officially commissioned the improved systems, which involves an existing Army Battlefield Internet being enhanced by a Software Defined Radio system.

The Army Battlefield Internet was developed by both the Army and the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA).

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who officiated the ceremony for the commissioning, said with the improved communication systems, "our ground troops will...see more accurately, sooner, and target with greater precision".

Said Colonel Percival Goh, Chief Signal Officer: "It's a game-changer for the Army... With this capability, it definitely puts us among the first few in the region as well as in the world."

The new Software Defined Radio is a significant improvement over the existing Army Battlefield Internet introduced in 2013 as part of the SAF's Wide Area Communications systems.

Ground troops equipped with the new vehicular mounted Software Defined Radio will be able to simultaneously talk and send messages, images and videos to headquarters where previously only voice communication was allowed.

Previously, ground troops that needed to send or receive data with headquarters required two different radios and time was wasted toggling between them.

The new Software Defined Radio, with four times the bandwidth, will reduce the need to install or carry two separate radios. This not only eases the burden on servicemen but also require less manpower to operate.

Captain Prathap Latchmanan, officer commanding of motorisation support company at 2nd Battalion Singapore Infantry Regiment, who has tried out the new system, said that less time is spent talking and explaining during battles with the Software Defined Radio.

This is important because when time is spent explaining information during an ensuing battle, the information relayed can become "irrelevant" with new developments on the battlefield, he said.

Active units in the Armour, Artillery, and Engineer formations will be equipped with the Software Defined Radio by this year and subsequently the new system will be rolled out progressively. Training for the use of the radio will begin in April at the Signal Institute.

The commissioning of the enhanced Army Battlefield Internet also coincided with the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Signals Formation.

Lieutenant-Colonel (Ret) Leslie Terh, who was among 60 signal pioneers at the event, said he was proud of the advancements made by the formation.

"From a very humble beginning with only a few officers and a handful of equipment, it has grown to be a very formidable and up to date organisation, something that we can be very proud of," said LTC (Ret) Terh.