Made by Singapore, for Singapore!
Jointly designed by our technologists and the RSN, the Littoral Mission Vessels (LMVs) are ‘uniquely Singaporean’. Smarter, faster, and mission-flexible, the LMVs come with increased capabilities and endurance to undertake a wider spectrum of operations. What’s even more incredible is that despite being bigger and more complex than its predecessor, the LMVs operate with fewer crew.
To optimise manpower required to operate the LMV for maritime security operations, our engineers integrated and co-located three distinct control areas – namely the bridge, combat information centre and machinery control room – into a single location called the Integrated Command Centre (ICC).
“To support the viability of this concept, we even developed a realistic battlespace simulation coupled with an immersive mock-up of the ICC. This allowed operators to validate the new LMV’s operating concepts first-hand even before the system was built,” said Senior Programme Manager Programme Office (Naval Systems) Ham Wan Ling.
At the DSTA simulation lab, LMV crew were able to get an immersive experience of the new ships even before they were built.
Another key feature of the LMV is the Combat Management System (CMS), an advanced command and control system that integrates the sensors and weapons on board. Developed in-house, it provides commanders with decision support engines that recommend optimal ways to deal with a wide range of threats, greatly shortening the decision-making process. For example, the CMS’ Threat Evaluation and Weapon Assignment engine determines the threat level of targets and assigns the most suitable weapon for engagement automatically.
Ensuring that the LMVs would be easy to manage, operate, maintain and train with was something the team was very adamant about. Engineer (Naval Systems) Emmanuel Hsu shared: “Adopting a ‘Design for Support’ approach, we implemented the stacked mast, a first-of-its-kind for the RSN!”
The stacked mast maximises sensor coverage while providing an enclosed environment for the equipment, thereby improving equipment and system reliability. Compared to traditional open mast designs, this design provides greater ease of access to the equipment, allowing maintenance to be carried out more efficiently without the need for erecting external staging.
The LMV also comes complete with a suite of weapons, including the Oto Melara 76mm gun and the MBDA vertical launch MICA missile system, to enable calibrated responses against a wide spectrum of maritime threats. Ensuring that the weapons would be safe yet effective in operation, the team worked tirelessly to address a variety of engineering challenges in the process of acquiring, integrating and operationalising the systems.
“We made it a point to ensure that the weapon systems’ human-machine interface, which allows operators to work via a centralised touchscreen console, would be easy to operate. We also took pride in ensuring proper integration of systems and that the system boundaries were tested rigorously through sea trials. The end product brought us a great sense of satisfaction,” said Senior Programme Manager (Advanced Systems) Yap Shangying.
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Note: Oto Melara has been renamed Leonardo as of 2016.
Another team also developed a LMV Simulation Centre to augment training realism for the LMV crew. Through a 360-degree projected environment, the centre replicates the crew’s experiences out at sea. Find out more here!
The experiences gleaned from the LMV programme will enable the team to push technological boundaries even further. Programme Manager (Naval Systems) Alvin Goh explained: “Innovations such as the LMV’s twin-stern ramp Launch and Recovery System enabled manpower savings and reduced safety risks compared to traditional davits. With further integration of sensors and communication links, we could take another step towards fully autonomous launch and recovery of unmanned assets.”
The eight LMVs, all fully delivered to the RSN, have since demonstrated their operational readiness as Singapore’s littoral protectors in various maritime exercises. The LMVs also play a key role in strengthening interoperability with other navies, with RSS Fearless participating in Exercise Pacific Griffin with the United States Navy in 2021.