Faster, more precise air defence system fully operational

Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman trying out the Spyder Remote Engineering Support smart glass. With him are Chief of Air Force Mervyn Tan (far left) and Chief of Defence Force Melvyn Ong. The Republic of Singapore
The Republic of Singapore Air Force’s Surface-to-air Python-5 and Derby (Spyder) is the first advanced weapon system that has been integrated into the enhanced Island Air Defence (IAD) system.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman trying out the Spyder Remote Engineering Support smart glass. With him are Chief of Air Force Mervyn Tan (far left) and Chief of Defence Force Melvyn Ong. The Republic of Singapore
Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman trying out the Spyder Remote Engineering Support smart glass. With him are Chief of Air Force Mervyn Tan (left) and Chief of Defence Force Melvyn OngST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

A ground-based air defence system that can respond faster and with greater precision to aircraft and munition threats has attained full operational capability status.

The Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) Surface-to-air Python-5 and Derby (Spyder), which was introduced in 2011, is the first advanced weapon system that has been integrated into the enhanced Island Air Defence system (IAD).

Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman highlighted the need for a robust air defence capability at a ceremony on Wednesday at Chong Pang Camp, where Chief of Defence Force Melvyn Ong and Chief of Air Force Mervyn Tan were present.

"The very foundation of a nation's sovereignty is in its ability to protect its skies and borders," he said.

"In April this year, the RSAF proved its vigilance and responsiveness when it responded to an alleged bomb threat on a Scoot flight.

"Two F-15SG fighters were in the air escorting the aircraft within mere minutes of being activated. It turned out to be a false alarm but we may not be so lucky in the future," he added.

Dr Maliki also said "the Next Generation RSAF plays a critical role in our air defence and also deters would-be attackers.

"Our network of air defence capabilities protects Singapore and Singaporeans from a wide range of air threats, and safeguards Singapore's status as a regional and global aviation hub."

He added that being part of a network like the IAD makes the Spyder system less prone to single points of failure and thus more robust. Compared to its predecessor Rapier, which has been in service for 30 years, the Spyder system has a longer interception range and at higher altitudes.

It can intercept aerial threats at a range of 15km and an altitude of 9km. This is more than twice the range and three times the altitude of the Rapier system.

It takes only four men and 15 minutes to deploy the Spyder, compared to the 15 men and one hour needed to deploy the Rapier.

In addition, the Spyder will be able to tap a real-time integrated air picture to respond faster and engage targets with greater precision.

Lieutenant-Colonel Daxson Yap, commanding officer of RSAF's 165 Squadron, commented that the Spyder system was in a different league compared to its predecessor, especially due to its ability to deploy both the Python-5 and Derby missiles.

The missiles are fitted with infrared imaging and radio frequency seekers respectively.

He said: "You will see that they are regarded as some of the top air-to-air missiles out there in the world. The fact that we are able to operate both of them concurrently gives us that robustness against a wide range of threats."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2018, with the headline 'Faster, more precise air defence system fully operational'. Print Edition | Subscribe