Get to know the most advanced UAV in Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam
As part of continuous modernization efforts, regional military forces continue to develop and field unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), with a focus on applications such as border/maritime patrol and surveillance, where long-range and loiter performance are desired.
While tactical and medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE)-class UAVs have traditionally been used for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), there is growing interest in developing more capable systems that can carry out higher-end missions like air-to-air combat, electronic warfare, and long-range strike.
Indeed, according to Teal Group's 2020/2021 analysis, global military UAV research spending might reach $64.5 billion over the next decade as a result of new technology.
The next generation of systems is also being created at a time when the UAV market is quickly expanding due to liberalized US export rules, affordable and accessible Chinese exports, and growing demand for armed UAVs, according to the business.
With a chronic manpower shortage, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) regard technology as a crucial force multiplier, with the continuing modernization program focusing heavily on the integration of command and control, intelligence, surveillance, and precision strike. UAVs are seen as a significant facilitator for the SAF's revolutionary endeavors in this area.
Boeing-Insitu ScanEagle: The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) uses the ScanEagle UAV to enhance and extend the lives of its six Victory-class missile corvettes, giving them an organic airborne ISR capability. The air vehicle is launched from the aft deck using a pneumatic launch catapult. To catch the returning vehicle in mid-flight, a Skyhook recovery system is installed right behind the superstructure.
Elbit Systems Hermes 450: The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) operationalized a number of Elbit Systems Hermes 450 tactical UAVs in March 2015, after they were first delivered in 2007. The RSAF's Hermes 450 UAVs are operated by 116 Squadron, based at Tengah Air Base in the west.
IAI Heron 1: The MALE-class Heron 1 UAV, which was introduced in May 2012 and replaced the outdated IAI Searcher tactical UAV, is the RSAF's principal long-range UAV. The 119 and 138 Squadrons employ the Heron 1 UAVs, which were declared fully operational in March 2017.
Skyblade II/III from ST Engineering: The Skyblade II is a short-range mini-UAV. Hand-launched and parachute-recovered, the 11lb (5kg) air vehicle is driven by a hybrid propulsion system and has a one-hour endurance and an operational radius of up to 8km (five miles).
The Skyblade III is a man-portable UAV that weighs 11 pounds (5 kilograms) and can be carried in two backpacks totalling 44 pounds (20 kilograms). It can be ready for flight in 20 minutes and launched by hand for up to an hour at an 8-kilometer range.
DSO National Laboratories V15: Singapore's first locally developed fixed-wing surveillance UAV with VTOL capability is the V15 from DSO National Laboratories.
The V15, which was unveiled in November 2017, is equipped with a day/night camera and is designed for usage in urban areas where traditional UAV take-off and recovery are difficult. The V15 can fly for three hours and has shown that it can take off and land on a moving unmanned ground vehicle.
ST Engineering Stinger: The Stinger Unmanned Aerial Multi-Rotor Gunship is a semi-autonomous, company-level surveillance and fire-support vehicle developed by ST Engineering. When carrying high-definition daylight and infrared imaging cameras, a fire-control system (FCS), and a 5.56mm caliber Ultimax 100 Mk8 light machine gun, the company aims for a 30-minute endurance.
ST Engineering Veloce 15 (V15) and Veloce 60 (V60) fixed-wing VTOL UAVs: ST Engineering's land systems branch announced the Veloce series of fixed-wing VTOL UAVs, which are meant to combine the tactical benefits of VTOL with high-speed conventional flight. The V15 and V60 feature MTOWs of 35-37lb (16-17kg) and 110-154lb (50-70kg), respectively, and are built to be carried and constructed rapidly.
Thailand's need for better intelligence collection has grown in recent years, accompanied by an expansion in domestic UAV research and development capability. With technical help from countries such as China and Israel, the state-run Defence Technology Institute (DTI) is leading efforts to expand its indigenous UAV production capabilities and promote innovation within the local defense industry.
Aeronautics Defense Systems Aerostar: Defense Systems for Aeronautics The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has deployed its first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the tactical-class Aerostar, as part of a larger plan to integrate surveillance and reconnaissance UAVs to support its fighting troops. According to local media, a new unit called 404 Squadron was formed at Takhli to operate the drone.
AeroVironment RQ-11 Raven: The Royal Thai Army is thought to have purchased 12 of these hand-launched mini-UAVs for tactical ISR operations in 2010.
RTAF Space and Aeronautical Science and Technology Research and Development Centre Tigershark II/U-1: The Tigershark II/U-1 is a type of shark that The medium-range Tigershark II tactical UAV was designed in 2015 and is said to have a range of up to 150km (93 miles) while carrying a 66lb (30kg) payload. According to reports, in 2016, the Ministry of Defence awarded a $18 million deal to buy parts for up to 17 Tigershark II UAVs.
R V Connex RTAF U-1: The RTAF has deployed the U-1 tactical UAV, which was created in-house and is based on technologies from prior Tigershark II and Sky Scout developments. The Thales Lightweight Multirole Missile is one of the lightweight air-to-surface missiles that the firm is incorporating into the air vehicle.
Royal Thai Navy (RTN) Naval Research and Development Office Tarem: The multi-rotor Tarem tactical UAV is being developed by the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) Naval Research and Development Office for communication and surveillance missions. It was unveiled during the 2017 Thailand Defence & Security Exhibition in Bangkok.
Vietnam is pursuing self-sufficiency in UAV development and manufacture by leveraging the state-owned Vietnam Aerospace Association (VASA) and telecoms major Viettel Group's significant indigenous aerospace and communications R&D resources.
Aeronautics Group Orbiter: Vietnam's artillery and coastal-defense missile battalions reportedly acquired two Israeli-made Orbiter 2 and Orbiter 3 mini-UAVs between 2014 and 2015 to improve situational awareness and targeting capabilities.
Viettel Group Patrol VT: In 2014, Viettel announced the Patrol VT tactical UAV. The air vehicle, which was developed by the company's Flight Instrument Centre, is said to be capable of flying up to 50 kilometers (31 miles) and is equipped with an optical infrared camera that transmits high-definition imagery in real time. It is now in use by the Vietnamese military.
Academy of Science and Industry/Ministry of Public Security HS-6L: The Ministry of Public Security/Academy of Science and Industry The HALE-class HS-6L, which features a twin-boom airframe with a wingspan of 72 feet, has been mentioned in Vietnamese media (22m).
The aircraft is said to have a range of up to 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) and a flight endurance of 35 hours. According to reports, a prototype was completed in November 2015, with flight testing taking place in the second quarter of 2016.
Armed reconnaissance UAV from Viettel Group: A mock-up of a new MALE-class UAV with a twin-boom airframe design was presented at the end of September during an exhibition of Vietnamese military equipment ahead of the 11th Party Congress's commencement in late September 2020. There were also a number of armaments related with the UAV on display.
Source: Asian Military Review