Singapore’s Army Marching On

KUALA LUMPUR: While our army still formulating the requirements for an advanced Land Warrior system, our next neighbour took a bold step towards realising the dream of a Stormtrooper ala Star Wars. SAF ordered the the Advanced Combat Man System through the the government owned ST Electronics (see story below). The timeline meant that Singapore will be among the first nation to field a Land Warrior system

How ironic it is that we are still mired in discussions which assault rifles or the universal need for body armour for all, an armed forces which started later than us keeping leaping us with boundless enthusiasm. I apologised for being so depressing but at the moment I did not see the light at the end of tunnel.

Singapore ACMS

Singapore Armed Forces buys ST Engineering’s Advanced Combat Man System
ST Engineering today announced that its electronics arm, ST Electronics, has been awarded a contract to provide the Advanced Combat Man System (ACMS) to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). The project which is worth over S$100m will commence immediately and is expected to be completed by 2012.

The award of this contract is not expected to have any material impact on the consolidated net tangible assets per share and earnings per share of ST Engineering for the current financial year.

The ACMS is a 3rd Generation Networked Warrior system fully equipped with advanced C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence) and network capabilities. The ACMS is a joint development effort that started in 1998 among the Defence Science and Technology Agency, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and ST Electronics with the support of Singapore Technologies Kinetics Ltd (ST Kinetics) in the area of weapon sub-system. It features innovations from ST Electronics and ST Kinetics. For this contract, ST Kinetics is a subcontractor to ST Electronics.

The development of the ACMS focuses on two key areas – to ensure seamless integration of individual soldier’s capabilities and to integrate the soldier as part of a network-centric force. As part of the design of the ACMS, key elements such as the weight of the systems, Man-Machine Interface and the networked and interoperable capability of the ACMS with other systems are defined as some of the requirements for its development. This system aims at improving the situational awareness, mobility, command and control, lethality and survivability of the soldier, resulting in a quantum leap in his fighting capabilities.

The introduction of the ACMS is a part of SAF’s 3rd Generation Transformation to progressively provide tactical units with network capabilities, which are vital for ensuring mission success. The ACMS allows section commanders and team leaders to become a part of a larger network that is able to tap into the wider resources of the battalion and call for more responsive and precise fire support. These sections function not only as fighting units but also as ground sensors, tracking the positions of various forces and feeding images and information back to the command headquarters for enhanced command and control of the battlefield.

“With our strong electronics systems expertise, ST Electronics is committed to delivering solutions that aim to enhance the fighting effectiveness and capabilities of our soldiers,” said SEAH Moon Ming, Deputy CEO, ST Engineering & President, ST Electronics.

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2192 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Don’t worry, we have semangat.
    Actually all these Land Warrior type things are a curse as they promote micro-management.
    Money better spent on training and individual leadership skills…. OK, we ain’t blowing a wad on that either.

    Don’t get all wound up by what they do. many of the roads they are embarking on are foolish ones. Which is not to say we are not travelling in circles….

  2. At least all malaysian infantryman must be equipped with light body armour to protect themselves from fragmentation. It should be cheap and lightweight. On battlefield, explosive fragmentation (from artillery, mortar, air strike, grenade) is the major threat to infantryman, which inflict more casualties than gunfire.

  3. It should not be cheap. It should be lightweight, durable and reliable, unlike some of our helmets.
    As for the fragmentation model, methinks we should study more contemporary evidence that shows that the primary lethal threat on the battlefield is in fact bullets and that Level IIIA equivalent soft armor does diddly squat for that.
    The likelihood of engaging in LIC is far higher than ‘conventional warfare’.
    Even in body armour and protective equipment, national interest is paramount. See the helmets etc.

  4. Infantryman is core to all armies therefore we have to provide our soldiers with the best equipments. Semangat alone cannot defeat technology. We need the right tools and strategies.
    In terms of technology application, our army is always few years behind, we don’t even have Digipat camo. Thais, Sin, ABRI and even Philipine Army have them…sigh

  5. What i mean by cheap is actually “cheaper than advance body armor that only small percentage of our soldier will have a chance to use it in future battle”. Of course in Low Intensity Combat, such is is Iraq now, the primary threat to infantryman is bullets, since opposing force are less likely to deploy heavy weapon (artillery, tank or ground attack aircraft). Heavy armor plate (mounted on chest and the back) that are now being used by some of US army infantry at iraq is proven effective to stop 7.62mmx39 round fired from AK47 rifle. Wearing any type of body armor will increase combat surviveability and confidence to push forward.

  6. Forget about the Digipat camo. Whats the point in having Digipat camo when most infantryman dont have NVGs and body armour let alone sights for their rifles. Of the 20 odd infantry battalions in the Malaysian army,not a single one has enough NVGs or body armour for all its companies. Lets start off with better quality uniforms, boots and webbing before we even consider something like digital uniforms.

    Marhalim: Actually I am told they are actually in the process of changing to a digipat camo but its looks like its one of the projects that got hit by the budget cut.

  7. The news report on the 1st contract award – specifies a 3-4 year contract delivery period, which means it is a phased introduction of the ACMS (but the press release provides no additional contract details). ACMS may be bulky now, but by the time the 1st contract ends in 2012, the newer, smaller and better hardware would be come available.

  8. does this acms thingy work in the thickness of the jungle? since most malaysian prospective battle zone will be initiated within the jungle surroundings and its boundaries, do the traditional eyeballs mk II systems of the maf jungle warfare doctrine still remain valid for the foreseeable future?

    Marhalim: yes such systems will work in the jungle although whether or not it can stand the humidity without breaking down all the time is something that has to be thoroughly tested, I believed thats the reason the project is incremental to ensure that it would workable in their operational environment. Will the Mark II eyeballs will be superseded by electronics? Yes and No, eyeballs will work all the time without the need for batteries although one may need ballistic glasses or goggles to reduce eye injuries. the electronic eye and sensors will be an advantage especially at night, dusk and whenever the need arises.

  9. The ACMS has been tested streneously and successfully in the jungle as SAF soldiers are expected to traverse through vegetation of all types. Singaporeans projects cannot be initiated unless proven effective in all the relevant conditions. The entire project took more than a decade from concept to realization. And it is just one portion of a tapestry of systems and new combat approaches with regards to the 3G SAF. You cannot implement the ACMS successfully until most of the other elements of the SG SAF are in place; a wide variety of computing systems, sensors and shooters; C4I et al. Singapore was racing to get it done and it has already taken 10-12 years. More still needs to be done.

  10. The project is more for the benefit of ST than the SAF. They would have got significantly more tangible benefit by implementing the SAR-21 P-rail upper and issuing a Red Dot Sight like the Aimpoint and/or some ACOGs.
    ACMS is just the last vestige of the Land Warrior me-too of the last decade with the OICW-clone dying off.
    8 years of real fighting have shown what is important and what works, Land Warrior not being one of them. 90% of the stuff is unnecessary if the troops are well trained and motivated.
    The more rubbish like this you have, the more time is devoted to teaching its use rather than actual combat and field skills.
    The really sad part is that the troops neither get the quantity or quality of trigger pulling that is necessary to excel.

  11. Dear MeesterT, I think have wrongly characterized the ST & SAF relationship via neglecting the role of DSTA (as programme manager) in this relationship triad.

    Q: Does the ACMS enhance or detract from a infantry section’s capabilities as specified in the design brief?

    IMO, if the ACMS meets DSTA’s the design brief that should be enough. There are always pros and cons to every system and no system is perfect – the relevant measure is whether it meets its design brief.

  12. i can tell you one thing. The ACMS were not that popular among the SAF infantry either. Theres a lot of problem. That said SAF did not deployed it as a whole. instead only certain company will be deployed with the ACMS, most probaly only a platoon per company.

    anyway my opinion is if SAF ready to deployed this, probably bedcause they need it for further field testing…like i said before the complain about the ACMS already surfaces regardless of Singapore tight control of the media masses.

    Marhalim: I guess thats why the new contract spell out that the ACMS being procured will be the Mark III version….

  13. While ACMS will be introduced over 4 years, hasrul’s statement quoted below is factually wrong as this is not the way SAF works.

    “…instead only certain company will be deployed with the ACMS, most probably only a platoon per company.”

    Marhalim: I believe what he is saying is that its the current practice perhaps it will be fully utilised when the MK III version is in place….

  14. Hmmm, speaking of digipat camo. How come our Bomba guys use some sort of camo!? Shouldn’t they be using something ‘High Visibility’ like orange or red, or perhaps even just dark blue. Camo so they can be ‘LOST’ in the thick of the smoke/fire??

    Marhalim: Even MMEA has gone down the digipat way only the armed forces are left behind….

  15. Maybe we should learn a couple of lessons from the recent 2008 South Ossetia War. Equipment wise, the Russian Army was more or less inferior than their Georgian Counterparts. Most Russian soldiers were not wearing personal protection equipment. There were even soldiers who did wear helmets, albeit old Soviet-Era M68 Steel Helmets. You might say Russia has the manpower; not quite true, the critical opening phase of the war and the ensuing intense urban battles in the South Ossetian Capital of Tskhinvali were fought with Georgian Forces outnumbering Russian Forces (the Georgians had 16,000 men while Russia had 10,000 men plus 2,000 Ossetian Militiamen). And the Georgian Army with the western equipment (they wore MARPAT BDU’s and OTV’s !) and training, they lost to the so-called “Poor Man’s Army” that is Russia. Why ? it’s simple, more than 70% of the Russians were veterans of Chechnya and regional combat operations. They simply had the training and experience to defeat the inexperienced albeit well trained Georgian Army. Of course to add to all this were the thousands of Russian armoured vehicles and soldiers coming in from Russia by Day 3.

    I think it shows that while modernisation helps, but it doesn’t really guarantee success.

  16. Modernization should be for the sake of effectiveness and not due to curiosity or prestige. Too many gadgets will end up distracting a soldier from the most important thing – focusing on the heat of the moment. No doubt situational awareness will help a lot, but when the bullets start flying within a 100-yard radius around you, the last thing your brain will be processing will be that radio chatter coming in through your communications gear telling you where the enemy positions are while you’re returning fire.

  17. JS Wong, that’s where training comes in. You need to train a soldier to return accurate fire.
    While I’m not a fan of the ACMS (mainly because it is currently too bulky for my taste), it does enable the soldier to call upon more resources at a touch of a button.

  18. actually my opinion is…. our country need to start making our own weapons instead not just buy it from others country!!! just look at indonesia!!! they already make’s their own weapons for an example like pindad assault rifle’s and panser anoa …. do you know if malaysian can construct or build his own weapons… do u know how much money we can safe… and we can also sell our weapon to other’s country too…. so think about it!!!

    Marhalim: I am also for us manufacturing our weapons as long as the end product actually helped our armed forces and not become a burden to it.

  19. Well quite interesting… in my humble opinion, any military forces in this world yearn to have the best technologies for their men… unsuring their safety IOT operate in the meanest, most unsuitable environment permissible to man… dream the dream my man… if you still have pollies (politician) making decision for defence in term of what to buy, how to buy and disregard “why we need” elements, we will still be in the current combat jacket with different pocket and design but same quality… we will get nowhere but still here… Military institution to me is the best organisation ever exist, it’s the people that bring it down to its current standard…. As military personnel in the frontline, I sworn my life to defend Malaysia, but somewhere, someplace in the organisation, there were a few men and women, from every level of command and status, who look at military as their gold mine.. if this basic mentality habit does not change, don’t think about we’re getting any new stuff… got to remember, Malaysia is in 140++ position in the World Most Corrupt States…. our next door neighbor way out of our reach… We can manufacture things, build it as our own, but one must ask this fundamental question, who will monopolise the business if not those who have their own interest…. think it over. is it us?? or is it ours???

  20. haha talking about acms,do u guys know how heavy its is to be lugging those things all day n nite. Let alone just carrying ur basic battle order items plus a rifle. Believe me i would rather do a fire-fight with a reliable rifle and loads of ammo.

    Plus helmet and vest no doubt

  21. Believe it or not those guys in the south just wants to impress their northern neighbour who is still ulu in these gismos,i would support if the MOD give some thoughts on light combat boots,light and simplified webbing,camo uniform that blends well when the foot soldiers are in open terrain n not some trendy digicamo,take indonesia army uniform,u will be shock,of their camo pattern,no copy cat of the west but just plain practical camo

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