MELBOURNE, Australia — Singapore’s ST Engineering believes that a new joint venture with Israel Aerospace Industries, to market and sell advanced naval missile systems, will leverage both companies’ strengths and track records to address a growing demand for guided munitions.
The joint venture, announced in mid-July, is called Proteus Advanced Systems, with ST Engineering’s land systems arm and IAI each having a 50 percent share. According to the news release announcing the joint venture, the new entity will “market and sell advanced naval missile systems, including a next generation anti-ship missile system.”
ST Engineering confirmed to Defense News that its next generation anti-ship missile is called the Blue Spear, a system that it says it has been working with IAI over the past few years, although it declined to divulge the exact timeline.
A spokesperson from the company added that Blue Spear, which was also known as the 5G SSM, is “is an anti-ship missile system that introduces an advanced and novel approach which addresses the challenges of the modern naval arena for years to come,” and confirmed reports elsewhere that ST Engineering’s role in the Blue Spear’s development includes the design, development and production of major subsystems like the booster motor and warhead.
The spokesperson added that the land systems arm of the company, ST Engineering Land Systems, was chosen to participate in the development of the missile as it “has been in the business of conventional munitions for many years.”
The division has manufactured NATO-standard ammunition for small arms and artillery systems, and has been involved in license-production of both the Rafael Spike anti-tank and the Russian 9K38 Igla surface-to-air missiles used by Singapore’s military.
No other technical details of the Blue Spear were made available. IAI has previously developed the Gabriel family of anti-ship missiles, with the latest being the Gabriel 5, which the Israeli company says is designed to penetrate modern hard- and soft-kill anti-missile defenses.
ST Engineering says that the development of the Blue Spear and the formation of the joint venture was a commercial venture by both companies and is “not driven by any ongoing customer requirement.”
However it has not escaped notice that the Republic of Singapore Navy’s current anti-ship missile is the Boeing RGM-84C Harpoon, a weapon that was introduced in the early 1980s. The Harpoon is used by Singapore’s six Formidable-class multi-role frigates and a similar number of Victory-class missile corvettes, while the air-launched AGM-84C can be carried by Singapore’s Fokker 50 maritime patrol aircraft and its Lockheed-Martin F-16C/D multi-role fighter jets.
The service plans to buy six multi-role combat vessels, starting the middle of this decade, to replace its missile corvettes, and will almost certainly equip these with a new anti-ship missile given several of Singapore’s neighbours are introducing much more modern capabilities.
The Singaporean frigates, which entered service between 2007 and 2009, will likely receive new missiles in the future as part of a continuing program to refresh its capabilities. Singapore’s defense ministry has yet to respond to questions from Defense News about potentially acquiring a new anti-ship weapon.
Singapore and Israel have enjoyed a close defense relationship spanning several decades, with the latter providing extensive assistance in setting up Singapore’s military when it became independence in 1965. The relationship extends to both countries defense industries, and Singapore is a major user of Israeli defense equipment although the relationship is usually kept low-profile.