The Singapore Armed Forces is replacing the existing Searcher unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) which have been in use since 1994, with the new and improved Heron-1.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen announced this at the inauguration of the new fleet into 119 Squadron on Wednesday afternoon.
Explaining that this marked a significant milestone in SAF’s transformation into a modern fighting force, Dr Ng said the Heron-1 UAVs will greatly enhance the capabilities of the force.
A key feature of the new UAV is its fully automatic take-off and landing capability.
Compared to the old Searcher, which only has eight hours of flight endurance, the Heron-1 has more than 24 hours.
It also has state-of-the-art avionics, detection capabilities and communication systems.
Dr Ng said: “It will provide our commanders, planners and soldiers on the ground, better situational awareness to make timely and informed decisions to engage the adversary decisively, and complete their missions effectively.”
He added that the advancement in surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of the Heron-1 UAVs need to be matched by the talent operating them.
Currently, there are about 680 UAV research and development programmes carried out around the world. That is a three-fold increase, compared to 2005. Over the next decade, total global expenditure in this area is expected to go up from US$6.6 billion to US$11.4 billion annually.