A new armoured vehicle will keep Singapore's soldiers better-protected as they guard key installations around the island.
The Protected Response Vehicle, dubbed Peacekeeper, was declared operational by Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen at the Golden Jubilee parade of the 2nd People's Defence Force (2 PDF) yesterday.
Dr Ng, who first mentioned the Peacekeeper in Parliament during the Budget Debate in March, mounted the licence plate on one of the vehicles before taking it for a spin around the parade square.
It will replace the army's fleet of V200 armoured personnel carriers, which have been in service since 1970. The V200 will be phased out gradually from next year.
The 17,500kg Peacekeeper has superior firepower and defensive capabilities to meet the modern operational needs of Singapore's island defence forces, and can carry a crew of up to 12 soldiers .
Jointly developed by the army and the Defence Science and Technology Agency, the Peacekeeper has a remote-controlled weapons system which allows the commander to fire at hostile targets from the safety of its armoured interior.
The weapons system can also be mounted with three types of guns, including a grenade launcher.
The Peacekeeper features an integrated imaging system with both thermal and optical modes, and a laser range-finder to help soldiers hit targets more accurately. Its armour will protect soldiers from small arms fire and fragmentation grenades, and modern threats such as improvised explosive devices.
The fuel compartment is heavily fortified, while the engine compartment is fitted with an automatic fire extinguisher.
In his address, Dr Ng noted that the Peacekeeper represents a milestone in 2 PDF's plans to modernise its doctrine, tactics and equipment to meet new challenges.
"The current threats from extremist groups like ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) and ISIS-inspired lone wolf attacks are clear and present, and affect all countries globally," he said. "In Singapore too, some individuals have been radicalised."
The parade marked the 50th anniversary of 2 PDF.
Pioneer soldiers who served the unit during historical crises, such as the bombing of MacDonald House, were invited to celebrate the occasion.
"Our people will need to be adaptive to deal with threats appearing at our doorstep that we may not expect," said Brigadier-General Terry Siow, commander of 2 PDF.
"Our pioneers' spirit of commitment continues to inspire our younger generations."