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A report on Defense Asia '89 in Singapore; plenty to see but nothing very new.

A Report on Defence Asia '89 in Singapore

Plenty to See but Nothing Very New

As in most contemporary defense exhibitions, electronics dominated Defence Asia '89 held in Singapore on 22-25 March. This phenomenon is explained by the fact that while in many Third World countries the local arms manufacturing capability has been developed to such an extent as to make direct import of many types of military equipment unnecessary (for instance Singapore and Indonesia, and to a lesser degree Thailand and Malaysia, are already manufacturing military products for their own use and are successfully selling on the international markets), what they lack is specific military electronic know-now and manufacturing capability. This gap is being filled by high-tech equipment produced in Europe and the USA. There are also many sectors where indigenous production would demand the creation of electronic industries with little prospect of becoming prosperous ventures in the future because the production runs would be too small. This is therefore a gap which can still be filled by foreign industry.

Almost all the larger European electronics manufacturers were exhibiting. SEL promoted its RATAC-S battlefield radar, which is meeting with considerable interest in Asia, next to its extensive capabilities in the [C.sup.3]I field. The German Armed Forces are major customers for the equipment now marketed in Asia. Shown and demonstrated was the DEA family of multi-purpose combat work-stations, the FuH 300/600 hand-held data terminals and the [C.sup.3]I network in which such equipment can be used. The German company Telemit had structured its exhibit along the same lines, emphasizing its capabilities in tactical networks, reaching from communications security to data transmission systems. Shown for the first time was the SB-130/GY Electronic Switchboard, a considerably upgraded version of an older design. It enables one to program each subscriber line individually (26 independent connections are possible) for semi-automatic or fully automatic operation.

AEG had concentrated its efforts on electronic warfare equipment. A large section of the exhibit was occupied by the Milporter family of rugged computers for data input, computation, display and data transmission. In soft and hardware it is fully compatible with commercial AT-standards and can therefore be used not only for military purposes but also in any other harsh environment, ranging from offshore to industrial applications.

Communications and electronic equipment predominated in the French section. TRT emphasized its capabilities and experience in naval communications. On the center stage was the SNTI internal communication system originally designed for the Tripartite minehunter. TRT scored a major success by selling the concept to the US Navy where the SNTI will be installed on aircraft-carriers in the context of a modernization programme. SNTI is a modular digital multiplex system featuring access points all along a single transmission loop. Alcatel Thomson was present with virtually all of its divisions. For the past 15 years the group has had remarkable sales successes in almost all South-East Asia nations, ranging from air-space surveillance systems to minehunting equipment, simulators and other electronic equipment. Thomson-CSF Aerospace had helicopter visionics and a very interesting helmet-mounted sight on display. A new head-up display also attracted attention because of its small size and day/night capability. It is a strong contender for retrofitting to older aircraft in Asia. Thomson Sintra, the group's undersea division, is already well-established in the Pacific region in terms of minehunting and sonar equipment. It high-lighted its Sadang 1000 sonobuoy system for light maritime patrol aircraft. It can process data from up to 18 buoys simultaneously and is compatible with all types of NATO-standard passive and active sonobuoys. Sadang 1000 is a compact version of the helicopter-borne HRS 312 ASW system but without the latter's active sonar functions. Of particular interest to the largely maritime nations of the region was the Sterne minesweeping system currently under development for the French Navy.

Thomson-CSF Communications demonstrated with the TRC-747 the latest version of its well-known TRC-900 VHF/FM frequency hopping family of radios which has become standard in the French Army. The TRC-747 is a lightweight, hand-held tactical terminal which has been specifically designed for forward observers and, in more elaborate versions, for integration in tactical communication networks. Data are transmitted in short bursts at 9 600 bit/sec. Electronic warfare capability was shown by the actual operation of interception receivers and panoramic adapters in the HF and VHF/UHF bands. Both systems, consisting of the TRC-243/TRC-3941B and TRC-298A/TRC-2981 combinations respectively, provide automatic scanning of frequency channels and memory scanning of pre-set channels at very high speed. The associated DF-ing sets based on the interferometry principle succeeded during a demonstration in localizing the position of call-taxis in Singapore.

Hollandse Signaal showed its capabilities in the radar field. The MW-08 3-D G-band radar aroused particular interest: this may be due to the extensive naval planning taking place in the ASEAN countries for the '90s. The radar serves for short-to-medium range surveillance, as well as target acquisition and tracking. It can therefore be considered as a throughly versatile multi-purpose radar. For ships it provides a counter to aircraft and anti-ship missile threats at all altitudes as it features a seamless elevation coverage. Essentially a G-band version of Signaal's Smart radar, it incorporates the latest ECCM techniques which drastically reduce responses to clutter and jamming. A land-based version of the MW-08 is currently under development.

In the British section Plessey presented a new software called Generics, written in ADA, the language generally adopted for military purposes. Generics serves as a tool for the timely assimilation of pertinent information and its accurate data assessment permits rapid decision-making by the commander. The configurations range from single workstations to multiple processors or workstations interconnected by tactical or strategic networks. Generics finds a typical use in the Plessey PVS-3800 ELINT system also know as Vixen. This system supersedes existing manually operated equipment in service with the British Army. Assisted by Generics software it provides high scanning speed, improved signal analysis and, with additional equipment, precise DF-ing. Also on display were sets of the System 4000 frequency hopping radio family. Combined into a combat radio system, a network can operate on both HF or VHF frequencies. The Australian Army has ordered System 4000 under the designation Project Raven.

With an eye on the Asian market the British company MEL, a member of the Philips Group, was actively marketing its Philips 8500 VHF/FM transceiver designed for short-range voice communications between small independent action forces, such as fire teams and reconnaissance patrols. The compact radio set can be carried in a jacket pocket or be strapped to the harness. A small throat microphone frees the operator's hands for weapon use and a whisper facility permits quiet, yet clear communications in critical situations. The set is synthesizer-operated and offers 400 to 600 channels in the 30-90 MHz range. Fifteen channels can be preset for quick frequency changes. For the HF band MEL offers the 100 Watt Philips 7100 transceiver, which is primarily intended for semi-stationary use with internal security, customs services and other paramilitary forces. Cossor Electronics, one of Europe's leaders in IFF equipment, showed its Mark XII cryptographic IFF system which has become NATO standard. On display were the 4700 airborne transponder and the IFF 890 series interrogator for use on ground-to-air weapon systems.

Electro-optics in various forms were found at many stands. Most probably for the first time outside the Western world MBB promoted two threat warning systems which have been designed for the Franco/German combat helicopter but can be used just as well on other rotorcraft. MILDS (Missile Launch Detection System), mounted in the form of three small sensor heads on the helicopter, forwards the detection data on a missile launch or on the approach of a supersonic missile to a small control box which automatically triggers the launch of decoys. The optronic system operates completely passively and uses a minimum of power. It is not disturbed and even less triggered by the sun because it employs high resolution imaging based on real-time video processing. The second system is COLDS (Common Opto-electronic Laser Detection System). With the introduction of laser-guided weaponry, laser rangefinding and even target engagement, helicopters as well as aircraft are under constant threat while operating in a hostile environment. COLDS is able to detect and analyse all current and future laser threats, thereby permitting counter-measures to be taken. The system determines the laser type, pulse repetition frequency, pulse width, direction and coding. The British firm Avimo displayed its Vedette laser warning device for use on armoured vehicles. Of robust and compact design, it is a low-cost solution for mobile forces. The equipment is intended to give a vehicle commander simultaneous audio and visual warning of hostile laser radiation. The system reliably detects most laser and IR energies and indicates the direction and type of attack.

Another type of warning device was offered by General Instrument Corp. A specialist in electronic warfare equipment, it is one of the leaders in radar warning receivers (RWR). The latest product is the ALR-80(V) lightweight digital system designed for fighter aircraft such as the F-16, Mirage, Jaguar or A-4. The system has been developed as a replacement for older analog or digital RWRs and can be used instead without the need for any mechanical or structural change. A special feature is the large-size threat library with a capacity of 1800 radar modes. It responds to transmissions ranging from the C to the J-band and provides warning regardless of their operating mode.

Spar Aerospace of Canada found a lively interest for its Tiger Eye remote surveillance FLIR, a passive IR imaging system which can provide a cost-effective, all-weather solution to the detection and identification of intruders along borders, coastlines, etc. It is currently in service with a number of military and paramilitary forces. For remote operation the sensor mount can be equipped with a mechanical drive which is operated with a joystick by an observer sitting at a TV screen. The same optronic FLIR is employed in mobile form by the armed forces for air defense purposes with the ADATS and LTV's Crossbow as well as for naval use and has been selected as a night vision device for the Bell/Boeing V-22 Osprey and the F/A-18 TINS.

A member of the Wild-Leitz Group, the Austrian firm Photonics exhibited its wide range of night vision equipment. Of particular interest, because of its unusual view port, was the NSFG 87 device. It is a well-know problem that one-eyed viewing is tiring and leads to inattention. To remedy this the firm has designed a binocular view port which shows a small rectangular image screen. Designed as an aiming device for ballistic anti-tank weapons with ranges up to 2 000 metres, Photonics' FCS-520 fire-control system is deserving of interest. To achieve first round hit probability the compact system determines with accuracy the three parameters - range, time of flight and lead angle - by means of an integrated laser rangefinder and a built-in ballistic computer. The optics are adjusted according to the calculated values. This permits the gunner to point his weapon at the target, track it, keep it in his sights and fire. Night vision capability can be provided by simply attaching a light amplifier. The method used by the FCS as such is standard but the packaging is extremely compact and no sharp edges hinder its handling.

A great deal of interest was aroused by Philips Elektronikindustrier AB's Trackfire anti-aircraft fire-control system. It is primarily intended for modernization of AA systems where the FCS is technically out of date. The Trackfire concept envisions that neither the search radar nor the guns need to be changed and are only modified if absolutely necessary. The system comprises two units mounted on different platforms: the first carries the sensors and the second the operator and his console. The sensor unit consists of a Ku-band tracking radar, a TV-camera with automatic tracking and a laser rangefinder. The sensor combination ensures tracking capability even under extreme ECM conditions. Trackfire is highly automated and the operator's tasks are essentially supervisory and issuing the command to fire. In a simplified version the system dispenses with the search radar and is manually aimed.

Visitors always seem to cluster round the Saab Training systems stand. This was also the case in Singapore where the various products were shown in video form. Next to standard targets for gunnery ranges, the production range includes artillery training simulators, laser simulators and procedure trainers. Tirax of Switzerland demonstrated a new rifle/pistol ammunition-less training system consisting of a laser housed in a small tube inserted in the weapon's muzzle. Dixi SA, also a producer Swiss of military training devices, sells its products worldwide and has developed special systems for tropical climates. Also exhibiting was the Danish firm Great Nordic which specializes in the production of alkaline batteries in all sizes manufactured to military specifications. GN batteries are found in missiles, mines and night vision devices, in radios and flashlights throughout NATO.

Italian companies dominated the scene on the naval side. The Consorzio Sistemi Navali actively promoted its various radar fire-control systems such as the general purpose NA-30, the anti-missile Dardo and the NA-21. The optronic fire-control systems NA-18 and its companion Pegaso are well-known in Asia, CSN systems being in service with the Indonesian Navy. Intermarine, the producer of the very successful Lerici class minehunters, of which three are in service with the Malaysian Navy, is looking for new customers in the region. The US Navy is currently looking into the possibility of building Lericis in the USA. If this deal is concluded it would represent a major breakthrough for the Italian shipbuilder and for Europe as a whole. The Melara Club, a grouping of Italian naval industries, offered virtually everything needed to equip a navy. The Melara Club has it all available, from seamines to guns, ammunition to diving suits, radar to communications equipment. A similar group from France, Pronav, promoted the new CA-2000 submarine, the successor to the Daphne class submarines in service in 23 navies worldwide. The 1200-ton (submerged) vessel has been designed by DCN and incorporates the latest advances in submarine technology.

MBB displayed its activities in the naval sector by offering information about the SM-343 MCMVs it has designed for the German Navy and the remotely controlled Pinguin mine-hunting underwater vehicle. Karlskronavarvet AB of Sweden showed models of its 360-tonne MCMV built in GRP sandwich technique, while Krupp MaK of Germany showed its expertise in design and construction of torpedo tubes for the various submarines built in Germany for export and domestic use. MTU's naval exhibit underlined that it is one of the world leaders in marine diesel design and production. As part of the Spanish Defex exhibition Bazan CNM showed video films of its capabilities in the naval shipbuilding field, ranging from aircraft-carriers on downwards. FFV Ordnance showed its renowned torpedoes, among the world's best. For some years FFV has been actively marketing its TP 43X0 and TP617 series in Asia, but navies are traditionally reticent about their underwater equipment and nothing is known about actual sales. The most likely candidate is Australia, which has ordered Swedish submarines. Commonly known for its aircraft, Rockwell had models of very advanced mine countermeasure and sonar systems on display. The firm's Marine Division is also involved in naval combat system engineering and offers sonar training equipment. Demonstrating its capabilities in naval electronics, AEG's Marine Technology Division showed a model of a German Navy 143A FAC for which it is prime contractor.

In the field of land warfare systems Krupp MaK dominated the exhibition with its Wiesel light armored weapon-carrier. The German Army has ordered 343 of these vehicles for its airborne brigades as anti-tank missile and automatic cannon-carriers. Several differently armed versions of the 2.8-tonne vehicle, which is manned by two to three soldiers are available. It is powered by a 5-cylinder 87 hp VW diesel. It was rumored that Indonesia intended to order a substantial number of these light tanks. MAN Gutehoffnungshuette promoted its Leguan bridgelayer, the "S" bridge and the firm's latest development, the Folding Float Bridge 2000. Daimler-Benz, which shared a joint stand with its divisions AEG, Dornier and MTU, was promoting its soft-skinned cross-country vehicles and had the 2636A heavy-duty recovery vehicle with an Atlas/Weyhausen-Rotzler combination on display. Also actively marketed was the 8-tonne Mercedez-Benz cross-country Unimog U2150L 6x6. A model of the Dornier DAR (Drohne Anti-Radar) an expendable anti-radiation RPV, drew a lot of attention.

The Pearson Engineering (UK) Universal Bulldozer Blade is easily bolted onto MBTs and is used for demolition and earth-moving operations on the battlefield. Depending on the consistency of the soil, MBTs can thus dig themselves into a hull-down position in less than 10 minutes. Pearson also produces mineploughs and as an associated product markets its Pathfinder system. This is attached to the plough-fitted tank and marks the cleared path by shooting marker rods into the ground. For use at night these rods are equipped with Cyalume cold lightsticks produced by American Cyanamid, which had also a much-noted stand. AWD Bedford, which had a stand, is attempting to regain its position as market leader in Malaysia and the neighbouring countries after more than one decade of inactivity. The chances for that are excellent because the name Bedford has an excellent reputation in these countries. Marketed primarily, next to a wide range of other military vehicles, is the military ML 4-4 4/5-tonne truck. On display was Iveco's cross-country 1.5-tonne 40.10 WM 4 x 4 light truck in service with the Italian Forces.

Four manufacturers of hand weapons exhibited their designs. The Indonesian P.T. Pindad offered its FNC 5.56 rifle. The Beta Co. showed a new 100-round twin drum magazine for the M-16 rifle. Named C-Mag, it weighs 2.1 kg fully charged and like the standard 20-round magazine can be fitted without any special changes to the gun. It is currently under evaluation by the US Army. The Italian gun manufacturer Franchi had a wide range of guns on display. Of special interest was the SMG 821, a 9 mm Parabellum semi-automatic pistol in mini format intended for police and special forces. SIG of Switzerland had the whole range of its weapons on display, in particular the much admired new 5.56 mm assault rifles SG 550 (short) and 551 (long).

In the way of clothing and shelters, Avon (UK) showed a complete range of protective clothing and frogman outfits. The firm is the main supplier to the British and several NATO forces of body armor and gas-masks. Avon also produces inflatable boats, running pads for tank tracks and collapsible fuel cells. Combat Clothing Australia showed its capability in the manufacture of competitively priced ballistic body armor for civil and military purposes. The underground shelter specialist Luwa (Switzerland) demonstrated mock-ups of its unique blast doors, which are in use in several countries and under evaluation by the US Forces. Andair AG showed in its display that it can provide a comprehensive solution to shelter ventilation, EMP and NBC protection of underground installations and cooling systems. Both shelter specialists exhibited in Singapore because the subway system under construction will also serve as an air raid shelter. Schuberth Helme (FRG) exhibited their newly developed lightweight helmets which are composed of glassfiber, cotton and ballistic nylon or aramide. Their protective value is higher than the hitherto used steel. The German Forces are currently testing a number of designs with the aim of replacing the old model. A worldwide market is being targeted by Schuberth Helme.

The aerospace manufacturers apparently did not consider Defence Asia a suitable venue. With the exception of Dassault-Breguet, which was promoting its Mirage 2000 and the Atlantique 2, and Panavia, which presented the Tornado (12 of which are now on order by the Malaysian AF), only Boeing had a notable stand. It presented its concept for a military conversion of the Dash-8 airliner into an ASW maritime patrol aircraft, which may have some attraction for the maritime Asian nations. With a highly modern airframe and engines, it is not overly expensive, employs ASW systems in use with the P-3Bs in New Zealand, can carry a considerable amount of weaponry and has a range of 2 300 NM.

By and large Defence Asia '89 could be considered a success for those companies and visitors who were either promoting or looking for specific equipment. Visitors looking for sensational disclosures, on the other hand, must have been rather disappointed.

PHOTO : SEL supplies a wide range of command, control and communications equipment (here a sample

PHOTO : of DEA-type terminals).

PHOTO : AEG manufactures this mobile electronic warfare control and analysis centre for ELINT and

PHOTO : SIGINT networks.

PHOTO : Thomson-CSF's SHUD smart head-up display will be suitable as an easy retrofit unit.

PHOTO : Hollandse Signaal's Reporter low-level early warning radar and weapon control system is a

PHOTO : compact but powerful unit.

PHOTO : The General Instruments AN/ALR-80 RWR memorizes 1 800 threat signatures.

PHOTO : Photonics (Wild/Leitz Group) produces this very compact and modular fire-control system

PHOTO : for anti-tank weapons.

PHOTO : New from Tirax, this rifle and pistol laser training device is simply inserted in the

PHOTO : weapon's muzzle.

PHOTO : Part of CSN's NA30 weapon control system, the electro-optically-assisted radar can be seen

PHOTO : above the Albatros launcher.

PHOTO : The reputation of Intermarine's GRP-hulled minehunters' resistance to underwater

PHOTO : explosions is no longer in doubt.

PHOTO : Thomson Sintra-designed combat centre of the DCN CA-2000 submarine promoted by Thomson

PHOTO : Sintra and Pronav.

PHOTO : MBB has designed the Pinguin B3 to find and destroy new-generation smart mines.

PHOTO : The Krupp MaK-built Wiesel delivered in large numbers to the West German Army is awaiting

PHOTO : export orders.

PHOTO : Using the Leguan (Iguana) bridge-layer as a basis, MAN of Germany has developed this

PHOTO : 36-metre span ferry system.

PHOTO : Mercedes Benz is marketing its latest variation on the Unimog theme, the eight-tonne

PHOTO : U2150L 6 x 6 cross-country vehicle.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Armada International
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Copyright 1989, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:defense exhibition
Author:Geisenheyner, Stefan
Publication:Armada International
Date:Jun 1, 1989
Previous Article:Current and future developments in cockpit design.
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