The burgeoning power of computer technology and how it could help the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) was address by Maj Gen Raymund Ng, Chief of the Air Force.

"The RSAF is a microcosm of the city-state. Faced with the same lack of resources, we have to constantly exploit new technological frontiers and innovations of the mind," he said.

For example, he said, the skies around Singapore were already limited - "an aircraft taking off from an airfield in Singapore can leave Singapore's airspace in 30sec" - and congested. RSAF detachments had to undertake much of their training overseas because of those airspace constraints.

Such overseas detachments had one major advantage: they brought Singaporean pilots into contact with some of the best air arms in the world and allowed them to benchmark themselves against some of the world's finest pilots. The RSAF, for example, took part in the demanding Red Flag exercises in the US.


In future, however, technology offered the best of both worlds: "It may be possible to conduct a Virtual Red Flag in cyberspace using linked simulators. This will allow us an infinite play area that frees us from our airspace constraints and safety considerations."

In the longer term, the advent of uninhabited combat air vehicles (UCAVs) could relieve the RSAF not only of territorial constraints, but the limited pool of manpower available to the service.

Early unmanned air vehicles had already seen active service with the Israeli forces over the Beka'a Valley, as well as in the Gulf war and Kosovo.

Future technologies promised air arms much more: "Just imagine - the potentially limitless possibilities that are offered by a fleet of UCAVs, capable of performing 30g manoeuvres, flying at Mach 12-15, with ultra-low observable stealth designs or capable of staying airborne for weeks to months at a time. But, more importantly, there would also be less worry for military chiefs like us over casualties in combat."

Opening the conference earlier, Dr Tony Tan, Singapore's deputy prime minister and minister for defence, commented on how the Gulf war and Kosovo "...had demonstrated just how critical the air dimension is," but that in future air power would have to adapt to the more diverse challenges of a borderless world.

"As recent events have shown, instability in one area can quickly destabilise surrounding regions.

He noted that the importance of air power in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions had been demonstrated in United Nations operations in Cambodia and East Timor.

Such humanitarian missions could be performed more effectively if air forces co-operated "...sharing information and sometimes pooling resources."

Source: Flight Daily News