Singapore Air Show

Singapore’s Upper-Tier Air Defence Goes on Show

 - February 16, 2022, 1:43 AM
Defending Singapore’s small airspace is a primary mission for the RSAF, and relies on a sophisticated air defense system with upper- and lower-tier missiles. (Photo: David McIntosh)

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) is showing its Aster 30 upper-tier air defense system at the Singapore Airshow. Designed and manufactured by the Eurosam consortium of MBDA and Thales and forming part of the Sol-Air Moyenne Portée/Terrestre (SAMP/T) air defense system, the Aster 30 medium-range surface-to-air missile was selected by the RSAF in 2013 as the replacement for the aging Raytheon MIM-23B Improved Homing-All-The-Way Killer (I-HAWK) missile system.

With the first units delivered in 2018, the Aster 30 has been in 24/7 operation with the RSAF since August 2020, protecting the upper airspace as part of the integrated Island Air Defense system conceptualized in the mid-2000s. The system also integrates the Elta ELM-2084 multi-mission radar, Thales GM200/Shikra low-level radars, and the RSAF’s Gulfstream 550 airborne early warning aircraft. Protecting lower airspaces alongside manned fighters is the shorter-range Rafael Spyder system, which combines ground-launched versions of the imaging infrared-guided Python-5 and active radar-guided Derby missiles.

Vertically launched from a canister, the Aster 30 can engage targets at up to 60,000 ft and has an effective range against fighter-sized targets of 70 km. It can tackle smaller targets such as unmanned aerial vehicles and guided missiles. The mobile launcher vehicle can carry eight canisters.

Whereas I-HAWK required a team of 11 to operate it, an Aster 30 team consists of just six personnel, comprising a team commander and a launcher module team chief, two air defense systems specialists, and two air defense weapons specialists. The shorter-range Aster 15 is also in service as a ship point defense weapon with the Republic of Singapore Navy.