Singapore announces industry line-up for navy’s future MRCVs

Singaporean defence procurement authorities have revealed fresh details about the Republic of Singapore Navy’s (RSN’s) Multi-Role Combat Vessel (MRCV) programme.

On the sidelines of the Singapore Defence Technology Summit on 22 March, the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) and Swedish defence prime Saab signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to co-develop and design the new vessels, by “harnessing technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics to realise the MRCV’s concept as a highly digital ship”.

According to the DSTA, the MoU will also enable its scholars and engineers to embed with Saab via work attachment and internships. The move is aimed at enhancing the country’s technical capabilities particularly in the areas of ship composite structure repair and radar overhaul.

“This marks the beginning of an exciting partnership with Saab. Besides setting the stage to jointly deliver an advanced, digitalised and data-driven [MRCV], the partnership will help accelerate the growth of knowledge not only in ship design but also in technologies of strategic significance such as AI and data analytics,” said DSTA Chief Executive Mervyn Tan. “To this end, it will lead to a more robust in-country talent pipeline of defence engineers and technologists with real-world experience.”

On 28 March the Singapore Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) announced that local defence prime ST Engineering was awarded a contract for the detailed design and build of six MRCVs. Neither the contract value nor specifications of the new vessels were disclosed.

MINDEF earlier announced in July 2018 that the MRCVs – which will replace six ageing Victory-class missile corvettes – will function as mother ships that would host a range of unmanned air, surface, and subsurface vehicles. The MRCVs will be delivered progressively to the RSN from 2028 onwards.

The MRCVs will also be designed to undertake a wide spectrum of missions from “peace to war”, although MINDEF has yet to provide specific details. However, the ability of the MRCVs to embark unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) provide some possible hints of potential roles. For example, the RSN has already fielded 16 m-class USVs that have been optimised for mine countermeasures (MCM) and maritime security (MARSEC) missions.

by Jr Ng