New system allows SAF field troops, HQ to exchange videos, photos securely

SINGAPORE — Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) soldiers will be able to act more decisively against potential targets thanks to a new vehicle-mounted system that allows photos, video, files and text messages to be transmitted between troops in the field and their commanders in headquarters.

Soldiers have been able to send data from one military headquarters to another since 2013 via the Army Battlefield Internet (ABI) network. But communication between field troops and headquarters has so far been limited to voice.

By enhancing the ABI network with what the SAF calls a vehicle-mounted Software Defined Radio (SDR) system, field troops and their headquarters can now securely exchange photos and videos, providing headquarters with increased situational awareness on the battlefield and improving command and control of the military.

In addition, voice and data transmissions are now combined into one unified radio, saving time and allowing decisions to be made much faster.

The SDR system was officially commissioned on Friday (March 4) as part of the Signal Formation 50th Anniversary Parade at Stagmont Camp. The signal formation is responsible for providing communications and a local area network on the battlefield.

Commenting on the system, Capt. Prathap Latchmanan, officer commanding the motorization support company, said that a verbal explanation of the situation could take longer while fighting.

“Information about the battle will become irrelevant very quickly,” he said.

He also explained that the old system required him to switch between two radio stations.

“So when you remove (the switch), it makes it faster, less cumbersome, easier and faster,” he added.

The SDR system was created from a commercial off-the-shelf solution that the Army and the Defense Science and Technology Agency customized to meet the operational requirements of the SAF.

As for the time it takes to transmit photos and videos, the Defense Department said it would depend on factors such as media resolution and video length, as well as signal strength.

Active units in the Armored, Artillery and Engineer formations can expect to be equipped with the SDR this year, while the Signal Formation will roll out the new system gradually to other units over the next few years.

Speaking at the event, Defense Minister Dr Ng Eng Heng said: “With the SDR, the tracking of our own forces and the marking of enemy targets and positions will be embedded in the images and videos. Therefore, our soldiers will see more accurately, sooner and target with greater accuracy.

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