The 3,200 -tonne, 114 -meter long Formidable-Class Frigates, are regarded as the Singapore Navy's most powerful warships. The design of the Singapore Formidable-Class Frigates boasts significant anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare capabilities. The design of the Frigates also has effective stealth abilities, which reduces visibility of the Frigates on radar screens, enhancing her survivability during combat. Formidable-Class Frigates are also reputed for their advanced electronic systems, capable of preventing modern network-based attacks. These features have enabled the Republic of Singapore Navy to better fulfill its missions.
The Formidable class ships replace the Sea Wolf vessels which had been in RSN service since 1968. Singapore stunned the naval world with the announcement that it would buy six La Fayette-derived stealth frigates from France. the Singaporean, or Delta version of the popular frigates have better signature reduction measures than its basic French La Fayette design. Displacing more than 3200 tonnes, the frigates ware armed with a OTO Melera 76-mm super rapid gun, and a mix of anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles. They are armed with the European anti-aircraft ASTER missile system.
The frigates are highly capable warships designed with stealthy characteristics, equipped with advanced combat systems and have longer endurance. At 114m in length, the frigates possess better sea keeping qualities, and are able to stay at sea for longer periods of time. Each frigate is powered by four MTU diesel engines that can provide speeds in excess of 25 knots. Stealth technology has been incorporated in many features of the ship's design. This ensures that the frigate has a low radar cross-section (RCS) signature and increased survivability. The frigate is designed to carry a medium-class helicopter capable of complementing the ship in Anti-surface and Anti-submarine warfare. The frigates are equipped with state-of-the-art combat capabilities allowing them to perform a wide spectrum of missions and to deal with various threats in all dimensions of naval warfare ?surface, air and underwater. Command and control of the various sensor and weapon systems onboard the frigate is achieved via an indigenously designed Combat Management System (CMS).
The integration of the Formidable-Class stealth frigate and Sikorsky S-70 naval helicopter bring greater anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities to the 3rd Generation Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN). The naval helicopters have the potential to deliver more effective air and sea power to help enhance maritime security. This is a new capability for the SAF and will greatly boost the war-fighting capabilities of the Navy, enabling it to have a more decisive advantage at sea. The naval helicopter can travel up to a speed of 140 knots and is capable of covering the same distance five times faster than that of the frigate. As such, its speed enables it to extend the frigate's capabilities, ultimately providing the latter with the ability to conduct faster and further surveillance. The mobility and speed by which the naval helicopter can be sent out to scan and verify enemy threats provides us with a greater tactical advantage and fidelity. For example, the frigate can deploy its naval helicopter to verify an enemy threat identified by a Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA). The integration would not be possible without the coordination and communication link between the frigate and the naval helicopter. For this end, the Combat Information Centre (CIC) on board the frigate ensures that both ship and naval helicopter are on the same page during missions.
The Formidable-class frigates will act as the Republic of Singapore Navy's (RSN) 'mobile ops center' out at sea. With a span of influence that stretches up to about 200 miles, it receives information from sister ships and aerial assets deployed within the range. It will then make sense of the pieces of puzzle, establish an accurate picture of the area of operations and send the information back to shore and to its Army and Air Force counterparts. In the past, Missile Corvettes and Landing Ships Tank were the platforms tasked to house the command team out at sea, but faced with limited connectivity, it was difficult to manage information flow and to establish as many links.
The new frigates are highly versatile warships that are equipped with advanced combat systems and stealth capabilities. They also have good endurance and can be deployed at sea for a prolonged duration. The frigates are equipped with state-of-the-art combat capabilities, allowing them to perform a wide spectrum of missions and to deal with various threats in all dimensions of naval warfare - surface, air and underwater. The command and control of the various sensor and weapon systems on board each frigate is achieved via an indigenously-developed Combat Management System (CMS).
By leveraging on a high level of automation and enhanced work processes, each frigate is operated by a lean crew of 70 plus and an air detachment of 15 personnel. The key to unlocking the mystery of lean manning, he revealed, is the high level of automation. This changes a lot of the working processes on board and makes it more efficient and effective to allow a ship of this platform to operate with a crew of 71 instead of the usual 150 for a warship of this size. They sail almost every week - at an average of three to five times weekly - more than other operational ships in the RSN. Thus, ensuring that the crew remains upbeat is essential.
DCNS was contracted back in 2000 to build six Formidable-Class Frigates as part of the New Frigate Programme, which was outlined by Singapore's Ministry of Defence through the Defence and Science Technology Agency (DSTA). The lead ship of the class, RSS Formidable (68), was built by DCNS in France; although the remainder were constructed by Singapore Technologies Marine (ST Marine) at the company's yard on the island. The first ship of this class, RSS Formidable, was completed in France and arrived in Singapore in 2005, while ships 2 and 3 commenced construction at the same time in Singapore. All were scheduled to be in service by 2009.
RSS Formidable's commissioning was held in conjunction with the RSN's 40th anniversary celebration. RSS Formidable was commissioned on 05 May 2007 year and it participated in the multilateral Exercise Malabar in the Indian Ocean four months later. With the commissioning of the three new RSN frigates, RSS Intrepid, RSS Steadfast and RSS Tenacious on 05 February 2008, Chief of Navy RADM Chew Men Leong was confident they would bring about a "quantum jump" in the Navy's fighting capability and strengthen its readiness to undertake a wide spectrum of missions. On 16 January 2010 senior representatives from DCNS attended the commissioning ceremony of RSS Stalwart and RSS Supreme at Changi Naval Base, marking the completion of the Formidable-Class Frigate Program for the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN). RSS Stalwart and RSS Supreme joined the remaining four Formidable-Class Frigates. The ceremony, presided over by Minister of Defence Teo Chee Hean, symbolises the culmination of eight years of collaboration between DCNS, the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), the Defence and Science Technology Agency (DSTA), and Singapore Technologies Marine (ST Marine).
"This programme highlights the outstanding cooperation between DCNS and the parties involved: the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), the Defence and Science Technology Agency (DSTA), Singapore Technologies Marine (ST Marine) and all participating suppliers. It brings a new demonstration of DCNS' capability in the management of complex naval programmes and our ability in delivering successful technology transfer. We pride ourselves on our long-standing relationship with Singapore and we look forward to seeing this relationship develop even further over the coming years." declared Alain Fougeron, DCNS Executive VP, Marketing and Sales.
"The completion of this programme could not be more timely," Eric Lassalle, Managing Director for DCNS Singapore, said. "The need for such a powerful fleet of vessels becomes clear when one considers the increasing need to protect international trading routes against piracy and nations against terrorism." DCNS commenced operations in Singapore in 2002 and by 2009 had a team of 40 staff based in Singapore, that will continue to provide service and support to its customers here. Globally, DCNS has the broadest range of naval defence capabilities and services, including all type of warships and submarines.
With all six frigates brought into service, the Republic of Singapore Navy's (RSN) Formidable-class Frigate Squadron is fully operational. Officiating at the commissioning ceremony, Minister for Defence Teo Chee Hean said "the frigates, with their longer range and reach, will significantly increase the RSN's ability to protect our Sea Lines of Communication. This is a critical mission as the lion's share of Singapore's trade is conducted by sea."
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