Singapore Practices Precision Air Targeting Via UAVs

 - December 12, 2017, 7:30 AM
A GBU-38 loaded on one of the RSAF’s U.S.-based F-15SG Strike Eagles, for a night sortie in Exercise Forging Sabre 2017. (Photo: Chen Chuanren)

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) is honing its capability to deliver precision-guided munitions (PGM) capabilities, and the integration of manned and unmanned systems. On December 13 the RSAF will conclude its annual Exercise Forging Sabre, held in the U.S. The 2017 exercise took place in Arizona, using assets and manpower that the RSAF keeps permanently in the U.S. for training purposes, as well as some that are sent from Singapore.

A total of about 150 live munitions were expended in this year’s exercise, up from 98 two years ago. New to the exercise was the GBU-31 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). Although it was certified on the RSAF’s Boeing F-15SG Strike Eagles in May, it was used with greater complexity and scale in Forging Sabre. With intelligence and coordinates fed through by the RSAF’s IAI Heron 1 UAV, the F-15SGs were able to conduct dynamic attack missions. They engaged fortified buildings and vehicle clusters in a single strike wave.

The RSAF is also looking to use the Heron 1 beyond battlefield surveillance. “The Heron 1 cooperative-lased PGMs in 2015, and now we have a lot of practice in laser techniques,” said the RSAF’s air-director, Colonel Liew Boon Ping. He gave an example of how the service’s Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow was guided to the target by the Heron 1 laser designator and quickly locked on to the target with its radar before firing the AGM-114L Hellfire. The UAV also validated its capability to provide target designation for the Singapore Army’s M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) via the integrated Command Post in Luke AFB.

The tempo for PGM training for the F-15SG is set to increase as the Singapore government has recently requested a Foreign Military Sale of 40 GBU-10 Paveway IIs and 84 GBU-12 Paveway IIs specially for the Strike Eagle detachment that remains in the U.S. (known as Peace Carvin V).