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To realise the RSAF’s vision of a Smart Airbase, DSTA collaborated with the RSAF and spearheaded several technical studies to discover ways that could improve the ability of future airbases to generate and sustain air power.

As part of the studies conducted, new operational concepts and systems architectures were developed. Working with local defence industry and international partners, the DSTA team sought innovative technological solutions for aircraft generation and airbase operability.

The team carried out operational research – the application of advanced analytical methodologies for complex decision making – to assess the robustness of new operational concepts and narrow the options of suitable solutions. RSAF personnel participated in the experiments to provide feedback to refine the various concepts.

A series of field demonstrations was also conducted by the team to test the feasibility and effectiveness of proposed technological solutions. These included a drone-based surveillance and decision support system for rapid assessment of runway condition, automated aircraft inspection, smart fleet management, as well as maintenance training via augmented reality.

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Separately, DSTA also worked with the RSAF to carry out a systems architecting and capability development study that delved into how technologies could be employed to enable new air power generation concepts in the future Smart Airbase.

Drawing expertise across DSTA, the study teams examined operational challenges and ideated new technology employment concepts. The envisaged Smart Airbase will feature an innovative fusion of technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, Internet-of-Things sensors and autonomous systems. For instance, the airbase will leverage drones and sensors to assess airfield damage, and automate aircraft inspection to turn around aircraft faster. In addition, a fleet management system will be in place to provide insights into aircraft performance and recommend maintenance actions proactively.

Unmanned ground vehicles and drones will be employed for perimeter security and incident response. The team also planned for smart utilities management systems for early identification of faults.