SINGAPORE - Like a brain that is constantly learning new skills, the Singapore Army's latest Hunter Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV) is able to adopt new capabilities using apps.
The Hunter, which is powered by the Army Tactical Engagement and Information System, also known as Artemis, allows soldiers to contribute apps to a specially developed App Store.
The AFV will also be able to integrate with unmanned platforms in the future, to gather reconnaissance and surveillance information.
These are some examples of the open and modular technological design of the Hunter, to ensure that it can remain relevant even in the face of evolving technologies, said Mr William Peh, programme director of land systems at the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA).
"This is essential as military platforms are expected to last 30 years with multiple upgrade cycles," said Mr Peh.
He and the team from DSTA, the Army and ST Engineering were recognised for their engineering achievements in developing the Hunter at the Defence Technology Prize Award Ceremony on Friday (Oct 25).
Speaking in an earlier interview with the media, Mr Peh said the fully-digitalised AFV, which was commissioned in June and made its first public appearance at this year's National Day Parade in August, also allows a crew to go paperless.
Instead of having to file fault reports and vehicle logs manually, crew members will find that such data are automatically logged into an onboard health and utilisation monitoring system.
This will allow them to identify and troubleshoot faults within seconds in a process that would have taken hours in the past, said Mr Peh, 34.
The data collected would also be used to analyse trends in vehicular faults, and enable condition-based and predictive maintenance to lower maintenance costs.
The team also took steps to keep costs down by ensuring costly parts in the previous generation of AFVs, like the suspension system, were not replicated in the Hunter.
This means the cost of maintaining the Hunter is expected to be reduced by about 40 per cent, said Mr Peh.
Cost efficiency was also another consideration during the development phase of the Hunter, leading the team to set up a systems integration lab for testing.
"Traditionally, to integrate and test systems, we used to do multiple field trials which were costly and time-consuming," said Mr Peh, adding that this allowed the team to deliver the Hunter ahead of schedule.
An augmented reality (AR) training programme that would enable self-directed learning with fewer instructors for the maintenance of the Hunter, was also developed with a pilot programme expected to be in operation in 2020.
Mr Peh said the development of the Hunter would not have been possible without the efforts and expertise of "many past and present defence engineers" and the partnership between the army, DSTA and ST Engineering.
"This was a journey that took us slightly more than a decade from conceptualisation to delivery. We owe it to our past alumni in laying the foundations for this programme," he added.