MELBOURNE, Australia — The U.S. State Department has approved a possible foreign military sale to Singapore for 120mm guided mortar rounds worth $66 million.
According to a release from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the Southeast Asian island nation requested a sale of 2,000 Orbital ATK XM395 Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative rounds.
Responding to a request from Defense News for comment, Singapore’s Ministry of Defence confirmed it's looking to acquire 120mm guided mortar munitions, although it added that "the acquisition process is in the preliminary stage, and the Singapore Armed Forces is considering several options."
According to Orbital ATK, the XM395 combines GPS guidance and computer-controlled directional control surfaces onto existing 120mm mortar rounds, replacing the standard fuzes and transforming them into precision-guided munitions that are compatible with all 120mm smoothbore mortar systems.
The company adds that the round provides maneuver commanders with a precision indirect fire capability to neutralize fleeting targets on reverse slopes, in narrow gullies, in urban areas and in other complex terrain where they are difficult to engage with low-angle fire.
The XM395 has seen action with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, where it has been reported to be able to often score hits within 13 feet of an assigned target.
If finalized, this sale will bring the total foreign weapon sales cleared by State for fiscal 2017 to $50.97 billion if this week's announcement of Saudi Arabia's $3.27 billion contract for more Boeing AH-64E Apaches is included, keeping it on pace to shatter the all-time sales record set in 2012.
Singapore’s Army is using the older Israeli Soltam M-65 120mm towed mortar alongside the Singapore Technologies Kinetics 120mm Super Rapid Advanced Mortar System, or SRAMS. The latter is mounted on the Bronco all-terrain tracked carrier developed by the same company.
The Bronco all-terrain tracked carrier is shown armed with a 120mm Super Rapid Advanced Mortar System by ST Kinetics.
Photo Credit: Singapore's Ministry of Defence
The SRAMS is a vehicle-mounted, 120mm smoothbore mortar that boasts a semi-automatic ammunition transfer system that provides a continuous firing rate of up to 10 rounds per minute. According to manufacturer ST Kinetics, the SRAMS is capable of carrying out autonomous fire missions with only a three-strong crew without needing a survey team and command post, resulting in savings in terms of manpower and equipment costs.
Singapore is a close regional security partner of the United States and has been a strong supporter of the U.S. security presence in Asia. In addition to various joint training exercises between both militaries, Singapore is also hosting rotational deployments of littoral combat ships and P-8 Poseidon multimission aircraft, as well as providing logistical support for American military ships and aircraft from its bases.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force also has a number of long-term training detachments in the United States, including an F-15 squadron at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, and an F-16 squadron at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. These detachments allow Singaporean pilots to train without being constrained by the congested, highly restricted airspace over Singapore and their training areas over the South China Sea.
Aaron Mehta in Washington contributed to this report.