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Singapore Beefing Up Army's Artillery Punch

Nov. 13, 2013 - 03:47PM   |  
By WENDELL MINNICK   |   Comments
Marines with 5/11 Fire Rockets Using HIMARS
More Punch: US Marines fire rockets from an M142 high mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Singapore seeks to boost its HIMARS rocket arsenal. (US Marine Corps)
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TAIPEI — Singapore is moving to boost its long-range rocket arsenal through the acquisition of guided, multiple-launch rocket system (GMLRS) pods.

The effort is part of the Singapore Army’s “3rd Generation Transformation” program. The Army’s 23rd Singapore Artillery Battalion at Khatib Camp is responsible for high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS).

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced Oct. 29 the planned acquisition by Singapore of 88 unitary high explosive GMLRS pods with tri-mode fuze and related equipment.

The Singapore military declined to comment on the $96 million sale.

Singapore commissioned its first M142 HIMARS in 2011.

“The GMLRS pods strengthen the Republic of Singapore Army’s ability to defeat long-range artillery, air defense platforms and light-armored vehicles in a precise, low-collateral damage strike,” the DSCA press release said.

Singapore’s HIMARS acquisition dates back to 2007 when the Army began making inquiries with the US government about procuring 18 HIMARS launchers, GMLRS pods and nine FMTV 5-ton carrier vehicles. The unit went operational in 2009.

The HIMARS carries a single pod of six multiple launch system rockets, including the 227mm GPS-aided rocket with a 15-70 kilometer range.

Singapore has in the past declined to identify either Indonesia or Malaysia as a potential threat to its security and instead referred only to terrorists and sea piracy as the rationale for procuring weapons. However, defense analysts in Singapore point to potential conflict with Malaysia over lingering disputes from Singapore’s decision to declare independence from Malaysia is 1965.

The new system will cover the waters of the Singapore Strait and most of Indonesia’s Batam Island and will be able to reach the southern outskirts of the city of Kluang in southern Malaysia’s Johor State.

Western defense analysts in Singapore say part of the problem is Singapore’s vulnerability as a small city-state of just over 5 million people. Singapore’s “geo-strategic vulnerability” and the armed forces “resultant doctrinal stress on offensive operations” have forced Singapore to seek advice from like-minded countries that experience similar constraints, such as Israel, Taiwan, Switzerland and Sweden, an analyst said.

The US and Singapore have been increasing military cooperation over the past five years. The US Navy will deploy a rotational force of littoral combat ships in Singapore and the US military, in general, has been increasing joint training and cooperation exercises. The Singapore Strait and Malacca Strait are key transport waterways for oil and natural gas from the Middle East to East Asia.

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