When it comes to training for urban warfare, the more real it gets, the better.
The SAF’s existing urban training facilities that comprise low-level buildings will be making way for a fresh facility replicating Singapore’s highly urbanised streetscapes to bring training to an all-new level.
Scheduled to be operationalised progressively from 2024, SAFTI City will serve the SAF’s training needs for a wide spectrum of operations, ranging from conventional warfare, peacetime contingency operations, to homeland security, counter-terrorism and urban operations.
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For this massive undertaking, our multidisciplinary team of engineers defined six principal considerations to guide its design and development: effective in fulfilling training objectives; efficient with high training throughput; safe by design; engaging with interactive targetry and realistic battlefield effects; evolvable to adapt to different scenarios and future training needs; and sustainability.
During the project’s development phase, the team leveraged technologies such as 3D modelling to engage the stakeholders to design and refine training scenarios, to ensure that the final product would truly meet their needs.
To make training more engaging, they also incorporated several smart training and simulation technologies. This included interactive and unmanned targetry with shoot-back capabilities, battlefield effects such as smoke and blast simulators, as well as battlefield instrumentations to track the troops’ real-time actions.
“In SAFTI City, we leverage unmanned technology to develop smart robotic enemies that would ‘fight back’, which challenges our soldiers to think and fight harder. Paired with special effects systems, we are able to replicate battlefield scenarios, thus providing an immersive yet safe training experience for our soldiers, and enhancing the way the Army trains,” said Programme Manager (Simulation & Training Systems Hub (STSH)) Lee Shinhan.
In addition, training performance is tracked by a data analytics system that provides accurate feedback. The team developed specialised software applications to enable the Army to review data, including statistics and video footage, so they can analyse exercises and debrief troops better for an improved learning experience.
All of these can be controlled and monitored centrally by the Exercise Control System – the ‘heart’ of the training systems – which is connected to the various soldier and building instrumentation, targetry and battlefield effects. This provides control and allows for the collection of various types of information from multiple sources for analysis, allowing rich data visualisation for debriefing and monitoring purposes.
SAFTI City will also feature configurable buildings and changeable road networks to ensure varied and challenging scenarios that allow soldiers to train in a wide range of operations. Built-in swing panels allow traffic flow and buildings to be configured for different training needs. There will also be false facades to augment real buildings to replicate a dense urban environment.
For the team, realising the vision for this first-of-its-kind facility required an immense amount of determination.
With their goal of enabling SAFTI City to serve the training needs of a wide spectrum of operations and be used by different Army Formations, they tapped the expertise of team members from across different DSTA Programme Centres. They also collaborated with the Army very closely, making sure to elicit their training needs and design creatively for diverse scenarios in a single city.
“This city has reconfigurable building sizes and road networks which can be changed to meet training requirements. For training realism, we incorporated technology to bring the battlefield situation to life by using targetry with shoot-back capabilities, battlefield effects such as sound, smoke and blast simulators. The data captured from the movement of troops, their actions and responses to engagement encounters, all form a rich picture for training review to improve troop performance. SAFTI City developments are multi-faceted, with interdependencies of parallel developments with local and multi-national contractors coming together,” said Senior Programme Manager Programme Office (STSH) Beatrice Kwan.
SAFTI City is poised to become the next gen smart training facility. Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony in June 2019, Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen said: “When completed, SAFTI City promises to be among the most advanced purpose-built military training facility for urban ops in the world.”