C4iSR: Maritime

Singapore Navy opts for partial helicopter capability across Independence class

17 May 2018
RSS Justice (foreground) and RSS Sovereignty, two of the four LMVs that will not be helicopter capable, despite having been built with a flight deck. Source: IHS Markit/Ridzwan Rahmat

Key Points

  • Only four of the eight littoral mission vessels to be operated by the Republic of Singapore Navy are helicopter capable
  • Service will likely validate the utility of helicopter operations on the vessel type before expanding on this capability across the class

A series of observations and verifications done by Jane’s over the last six months have confirmed that only four of the eight Independence-class littoral mission vessels (LMVs) to be operated by the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) are helicopter capable.

The LMV is an ST Marine-built 80 m vessel type that is progressively replacing the RSN’s fleet of Fearless-class patrol boats. The class’ armaments include an Oto Melara 76/62 Super Rapid naval gun, two Oto Melara Hitrole 12.7 mm remote-controlled weapon stations, a Rafael 25 mm Typhoon stabilised naval gun system, and a 12-cell vertical launching system (VLS) in the forward section that is capable of launching MBDA’s VL-MICA anti-air missiles.

While all vessels in the class have been designed with weight and strength considerations to accommodate one medium-life helicopter on the flight deck, four vessels in the class are currently being equipped to operate only rotor-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

At the commissioning ceremony of RSS Sovereignty (16) and RSS Unity (17) in November 2017, Jane’s first observed that the flight deck surfaces of both ships have not been given markings, such as landing area periphery and landing line-up lines, associated with helicopter touch-down and lift-off (TLOF) operations. Also missing on both ships were vertical replenishment (VERTREP) limits demarcations.

The flight deck surfaces of both ships have also not been treated with anti-skid coatings typically found on helicopter-capable ships. What has been done on both flight decks instead is the painting of visual cues that are typically used to aid with UAV operations.

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