03 November 2015
The Republic of Singapore Navy is testing a 16 m variant of the Venus unmanned surface vehicle for maritime security operations, including force protection and mine countermeasure missions (photo : Jane's)
The existence of a new and never before seen unmanned surface vehicle (USV) currently undergoing sea trials with the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) was revealed on the service's Facebook page on 1 November.
Specifications of the indigenously developed Venus 16 USV were not disclosed, although IHS Jane's Unmanned Maritime Vehicles indicates that the vehicle has an overall length of 16.5 m and width of 5 m, displacing 26 tons at full load. Powered by a waterjet propulsion system, the vehicle is thought to be capable of attaining a maximum speed of in excess of 35 kt.
Details of the prototype USV's payload were likewise kept under wraps, but IHS Jane's understands that this vehicle has been configured for mine countermeasure (MCM) missions. A launch and recovery cradle with what appears to be a towed side-scan sonar system can be seen on its payload bay under cover.
The prototype Venus 16 appears to be equipped with a high resolution towed side-scan sonar array. (photo : Jane's)
"Our navy will be integrating more and more unmanned technology as part of the navy of the future," the service stated in its announcement. "The Venus 16 unmanned surface vessel (USV) is one of the unmanned systems currently being tested to support our maritime security operations."
"The Venus 16 USV can be configured into various roles such as the conduct of patrols as part of our navy's layered coastal defence, or to support mine countermeasure [operations] in conducting underwater scans of the seabed, while significantly improving manpower efficiency and reducing the exposure to risk for our sailors," it added.
The vehicle is the latest model in the Venus family of modular and scalable USV platforms developed by Singapore Technologies (ST) Electronics, a subsidiary of state-affiliated defence prime ST Engineering.
Besides the 16.5 m platform, the company has also developed the Venus 9 (9.5 m) and Venus 11 (11.5 m) variants. ST Engineering had earlier stated that the USVs can be integrated with the Oto Melara remote weapon station for the force protection role, a Thales dipping sonar for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) persecution, a Thales Towed Synthetic Aperture Sonar (T-SAS) for MCM, and ECA's K-ster expendable mine disposal system (EMDS) for mine identification and neutralisation missions.