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Keeping the edge: Singapore to improve frigates' lethality amid rapid technological changes

Commander of the Republic of Singapore Navy's First Flotilla Colonel Ng Kok Yeng Daniel at Changi Naval Base alongside RSS Supreme – the ship he once served on. (Janes/Ridzwan Rahmat)

On 14 July 2012 the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) made history when two Harpoon anti-ship missiles flew from the weapons bay of first-of-class RSS Formidable . In the cross-hairs of these missiles was a decommissioned US Navy (USN) vessel moored in waters near Hawaii and both Harpoons struck their intended target within seconds of each other. It was the first known time on target (TOT) co-ordinated missile strike conducted by a Southeast Asian warship.

The time-sensitive missile strike, which took place during a USN-hosted ‘Rim of the Pacific' (‘RIMPAC') series of military exercises, is just one example of missions that the RSN is now capable of undertaking since commissioning its six Formidable-class frigates. The class, which derives its design from the French Navy's La Fayette-class frigates, was inducted between 2007 and 2009.

The first-of-class was launched by French shipbuilder DCN, the predecessor to Naval Group, in Lorient, France, in January 2004. The remaining five vessels were launched by Singapore Shipbuilding and Engineering, the predecessor to ST Engineering's marine division, between July 2004 and May 2006. Prior to the commissioning of its Formidable-class frigates, the RSN's most capable combatants were a fleet of six 62 m Victory-class corvettes.

Since its commissioning, the Formidable class has significantly transformed the way in which the RSN fulfils its dual responsibilities of protecting the country's sea lines of communications (SLOCs) and building friendships with other countries via naval diplomacy. This was the preamble provided by Commander First Flotilla Colonel Ng Kok Yeng Daniel in an interview with Janes

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