The Singapore submarine Challenger undergoes sea trials. The Challenger class of subs are being replaced. (Peter Nilsson / Kockums AB via Wikipedia)
TAIPEI — Singapore’s Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) signed a contract to procure two new Type 218SG attack submarines from ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems.
Signed on Nov. 29, the contract includes a logistics package, crew training in Germany, and air independent propulsion (AIP) systems, with projected delivery in 2020.
In March, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen announced plans before the Committee of Supply Debate to replace the Challenger submarines. “The replacement submarines will have significantly improved capabilities and will enhance our ability to keep our sea lines of communication [SLOC] safe.”
According to a MINDEF press release, the new submarines, along with Singapore’s two refurbished Archer-class submarines, will replace four 1960s-vintage Challenger-class submarines procured by Singapore in the 1990s.
The 1,500-ton Archer-class submarines were procured in 2005 and went into Singaporean service in 2011/2012. As former Swedish Vastergotland-class submarines built in the 1980s, the 1,300-ton Archers were refitted with AIP and retailored for tropical water service. MINDEF did not release contract details or cost.
Singapore’s Navy has been undergoing modernization efforts to deal with increased defense requirements related to piracy, terrorism, SLOC, and territorial disputes in the region. It signed a contract in 2000 for six 3,800-ton Formidable-class frigates from French shipbuilder DCN. All six are now in service.
In Ng’s March speech, the defense minister said Singapore was coming close to a decision on the F-35 fighter aircraft.
“Our F-5s are nearing the end of their operational life and our F-16s are at their mid-way mark,” he said. “For the longer term, the RSAF [Republic of Singapore Armed Forces] has identified the F-35 as a suitable aircraft to further modernize our fighter fleet. We are now in the final stages of evaluating the F-35. So in the interest of transparency, I'm telling you we're now in the final stages of evaluating the F-35.”
Ng said the SAF’s recent operationalized Leopard tanks, Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles, the G550 Airborne Early Warning Aircraft, and the Formidable-class frigates, which “taken together, will ensure that the SAF remains a credible and effective force to serve our defense needs for the next decade or two.”