Upgrades to real-time battle network help SAF commanders make faster, better decisions

PHOENIX - An advanced, real-time battle network that shares intel across Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) units on where the enemies are and when to strike has become even smarter at its job.

Upgrades by the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) to the locally developed command and control (C2) system will now provide commanders and operators stationed at the Command Post a more integrated battlefield picture to enable them to make faster and better decisions.

The DSTA outlined on Tuesday (Dec 5) details of the new key features, some of which are being tested or unveiled at the ongoing Forging Sabre exercise underway near Phoenix, Arizona.

For instance, a new video analytics technology being tested will allow commanders to better assess the extent of damaged suffered by enemy targets and to determine quickly if strikes by the SAF were successful or whether more action was required.

A video-management technology that sorts and categorises footage of various missions and drills is also being tested. The system could make it easier for commanders to retrieve relevant clips quickly for viewing.

DSTA engineer Loke Ee Foong, development programme manager, told reporters on Monday (Dec 4) at the Luke Air Force Base, that this year's exercise will also feature a new technology that has been operationalised: simulation components that allow commanders to devise land campaigns to aid their planning in the type of assets to deploy.

The simulation models can also conjure battlefield scenarios that may not be practical to replicate in real life and allow commanders to train their decision-making skills.

The DSTA has also introduced "sense-making" tools into C2 to help commanders in making mission-critical decisions. The aim is to shorten the "overall sensor-to-shooter cycle", which is the time that target information is picked up by sensors until they are eliminated.

For example, a special dashboard was created to aggregate higher-level information, such as the number of available or functional assets and bases.

 

Colonel Liew Boon Ping, head of the Integrated System Development Group within the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and director for the air component in Forging Sabre 2017, said the increased integration thanks to the C2 upgrades allow SAF assets to be deployed in a quicker and more efficient way.

RSAF assets that are pursuing enemy targets, for example, can request for Army assets to help eliminate other targets concurrently. Previously, Army assets could only move in after the RSAF has completed its mission.

The C2 system was introduced at the Forging Sabre exercise 2009 and has seen several rounds of upgrades since.

Previous enhancements include integrating real-time footage from the Heron 1 UAV and static geographical map into an augment reality display, by using advanced graphics rendering technology.

The integrated display allows commanders and C2 operators to quickly orientate to the real-time ground situation and make timely decisions.

Footage taken by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) previously had to be manually marked out on a separate map display.

The set-up time of the Command Post has also been reduced from two weeks to a week, thanks to a server virtualisation technology that replaces bulky physical server systems with virtual ones that enable space and computing optimisations.