It is said in the Jane’s Defence Weekly that the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) has unveiled a new high-speed and stealthy naval interceptor designed to perform a range of missions, including base defence for the service’s two naval facilities, force protection, as well as maritime security operations alongside its existing Fearless-class patrol vessels and future Littoral Mission Vessels (LMV).
The new interceptor, called the Specialized Marine Craft (SMC), will be officially revealed to the public as part of the military display aimed at showcasing the Singapore Armed Forces’ latest capabilities during the country’s National Day celebration on 9 August. The SMC replaces the service’s Fast Boats, which were retired in 2008.
According to specifications provided by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the 40-tonne SMC – which is based on an aluminium hullform with a low Radar Cross Section (RCS) design – measures 72 feet/22 m in length and has a beam of 18 feet/5.5 m. Kelvin Wong, Jane’s Defence Weekly correspondent understands that the draft of the vessel is approximately 4 feet/1.2 m.
Major Lee Pui Yau, commander of the SMC squadron, told reporters during a media preview event on 27 June that development of the SMC began in 2003 in collaboration with Singapore Technologies (ST) Marine, with the first vessel entering service in 2009 after extensive trials and design refinements in the intervening years.
Maj Lee said the vessel’s complement of four comprises a commander, a coxswain, a navigator, and a weapons specialist. He added that the SMC is not designed to embark additional personnel. Propulsion is achieved with two Hamilton waterjets, likely the HM series that are designed for marine craft ranging from 56 to 197 feet/17 to 60 m, which enable unfettered operation in shallow waters, while enabling the vessel to attain maximum speeds in excess of 30 knots/34.5 mph/55.5 km/h.
The SMC is armed with a foredeck-mounted stabilised OTO Melara Hitrole G remote weapons station that is equipped with a 12.7-mm FN Herstal M2HB QCB machine gun and complements the stealthy profile of the SMC with its low-RCS shield. According to company literature, the Hitrole G weapon station is capable of engaging surface and aerial targets and has an internal capacity for 400 rounds of ammunition. Additional ammunition can be stored under the mount. The company also stated that the Hitrole G is also equipped with a daylight camera, a cooled infrared imager, and a laser rangefinder.
Specifics of the SMC’s electronic systems were not disclosed, although MoD said the vessel features «advanced sensors» that provide «state-of-the-art surveillance capabilities» as well as a communications suite that enables improved integration with other RSN fleet assets and facilities. However, Kelvin Wong understands from Maj Lee that the vessel is equipped with a mast-mounted electro-optical sensor turret as well as a radar system, although he declined to elaborate further on their origins.
According to Maj Lee, the RSN currently operates three vessels with a further five expected to enter service by 2017.