Singapore navy's unmanned aerial vehicles make their debut in an overseas exercise

The RSN and RAN officers working together during the exercise. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF DEFENCE
The ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) being launched off RSN’s Victory-class missile corvette, RSS Vigour. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

SINGAPORE - The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) is deploying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in the 18th edition of Exercise Singaroo, an eight-day bilateral exercise with the Royal Australian Navy (Ran).

This marks the first time that the RSN is using such vehicles in an overseas exercise hosted by another country. These vehicles can provide constant localised surveillance and identify threats.

The exercise was held in the Northern Australian Exercise Area off Darwin from Sunday (Sept 4) to Thursday (Sept 8), and will continue from Sept 25 to 27.

This year, the RSN brings two Victory-class missile corvettes, RSS Vigour and RSS Valiant, together with the UAVs and a maritime patrol aircraft. Its Australian counterpart has, meanwhile, deployed one Adelaide-class frigate, HMAS Newcastle, and two Armidale-class patrol boats, HMAS Albany and HMAS Maryborough.

The participating ships and air machines will conduct naval surface warfare serials, ship boarding, communication exercises and gunnery firings.

The exercise was jointly opened on Monday (Sept 5) by Colonel Ong Chee Wei, Commander of the RSN's First Flotilla and Commanding Officer of the RSN's Missile Corvette Squadron, and Ran Deputy Director Maritime Plans Commander Samuel Woolrych.

During the ceremony, Colonel Ong said: "Exercise Singaroo has provided the RSN and the Ran with the opportunity to deepen professional sharing and strengthen friendships. The exercise allows both navies to learn from one another and to test the high level of inter-operability that we have built over the years."

The RSN will also be participating in the biennial multilateral Exercise Kakadu, hosted by the Ran from Sept 12 to 24.

In June 2015, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and then-Australian prime minister Tony Abbott signed the Singapore-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, which strengthened the two countries' defence relationship.

Exercise Singaroo, which started in 1995, is one of numerous bilateral military exercises between the Singapore Armed Forces and the Australian Defence Force. The two also regularly interact through high-level visits and military courses.

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