08 Mei 2013

Makeover for Missile Corvettes

08 Mei 2013

The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) fleet of missile corvettes (MCVs) receive extensive upgrades, breathing new life into the warships first commissioned in the early-1990s.

In service for over 20 years with the RSN, the Victory-class MCVs have quietly evolved with time. In the mid-90s, the warships were equipped with Barak surface-to-air missiles. When the MCVs turned 18 years old in 2009, they underwent a Life Extension Programme such that they could continue to be used for a longer period of time.

Last year, the MCVs began their latest transformation and were gradually being fitted with enhanced combat management, communications and sensor systems. Electronic warfare systems were also included in this latest slew of upgrades. 

Being system enhancements, most of the upgrades were not immediately apparent visually. However, the addition of a ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at the rear of the warships breaks the familiar silhouette. The new UAV capability consists of four parts; the ScanEagle UAV itself, its launcher, a Skyhook recovery system and the control station from which the UAV is operated.

The ScanEagle UAV is self-contained in a canister stowed at the side of the MCV when not in use. The launcher is a pneumatic system which acts like a catapult to shoot the UAV into flight and can be angled to align with prevailing wind conditions during launch.

The Skyhook system operates using a global positioning system to guide the UAV back to its MCV, where it is then recovered by a capture rope. It is controlled by a single operator who also manages the UAV’s flight profile and monitors several other systems to conduct surveillance and identify targets. Captured images are sent via the system to the ship’s Combat Information Centre for further analysis and processing.

"With the upgraded capabilities, the MCVs' survivability and ability to bring firepower to bear on the enemy is enhanced," said Lieutenant Colonel Rinson Chua, Commanding Officer, RSS Vigour.  

What is a Corvette?

A naval corvette is a type of warship designed to be small and highly manoeuvrable. In terms of size, it is generally smaller than a frigate but larger than a coastal patrol craft. Compared to larger warships, corvettes typically carry lighter armaments. The highly versatile corvette is commonly deployed as an escort ship and is invaluable to coastal defence operations. A class of warship with a rich history, corvettes continue to be used by naval forces around the world. The first warships to be termed "corvettes" were part of the French Navy in the late 1600s, though similar-sized vessels were also in service with other European naval forces.

The origin of the word "corvette" in naval terminology is still debated. The widely-accepted explanation is that the word derives from the Middle Dutch word "corf", which means "small ship".

1. ScanEagle UAV
Addition of the ScanEagle UAV system gives the MCV "eyes" beyond the horizon, up to 70km away. This significantly boosts the MCV's surveillance and identification abilities, and contributes to a better maritime situational picture for its crew and deployed naval forces at sea.

2. Communications
Advanced communications systems allow the upgraded MCV to communicate more effectively with the rest of the Integrated Knowledge Command and Control (IKC2) network within the RSN and the larger SAF.

3. Sensors
New technologies which are commercially available and advanced sensor systems are incorporated in the upgraded MCV to enhance its surveillance capabilities. The upgraded MCV also boasts better surveillance radar systems.

4. Combat management
The upgraded MCV has a state-of-art combat suite, similar to the RSN's Formidable-class frigate, which enables the warship to detect and react faster to potential threats in its area of operations. These enhancements also mean that the MCV is now better plugged into the SAF IKC2 network.

(Sing Mindef)

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