Saturday, January 30, 2016

Lunch with former SMRT President and CEO Saw Phaik Hwa

My wife and I dined with Ms Saw Phaik Hwa, former President and CEO of SMRT Corporation Ltd, earlier this week.

Good to see Ms Saw in good health and high spirits. Her post-stroke recovery story was inspiring to hear.

Ms Saw and I first met in early 2012 at the suggestion of a mutual friend. At the time, I was keen to learn more about the dynamics between a regulator and private company as my former employer was coming to grips with such a relationship with the then newly-formed Casino Regulatory Authority.

I cherish the opportunity to hear Ms Saw recount the SMRT team's experience in crisis management after the December 2011 train disruptions on the North-South Line.

The experience providing PR advice and editing for Ms Saw's blog was invaluable. This marked the third time this blog had been approached by a high-profile corporate newsmaker for personal PR advice.

Thank you for the trust, the SMRT "war stories" and the opportunity to learn firsthand the intricacies of PR management after the December 2011 MRT train disruptions.

Lessons imparted are evergreen and the determination to serve passengers better, whatever the atmospherics, is undiminished.

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Lessons from SMRT crisis comms from Saw Phaik Hwa. Click here 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Singapore must choose alternative energy source before LNG supplies run out

Many Singaporeans do not know or care to know that more than 90% our electricity is generated using liquefied natural gas (LNG).

In time to come, Singaporeans ought to know or will be forced to discover that the Natuna gas fields in Indonesia that is the main source of our natural gas will start running dry.

Estimates vary but even the most optimistic projections give the Natuna gas fields a lifespan of 30 years before supplies run out.

Thirty years is a short span of time needed to regear a national grid the size of Singapore's to accept a new fuel source.

This is why the Singapore LNG Corporation (SLNG) was set up in 2010 to import LNG from alternative sources like Qatar. It's a hedge that provides some measure of business continuity to LNG deliveries should supplies from Natuna be disrupted for natural or man-made reasons.

Options boggle the mind: Renewable sources of energy like solar, wind, water or nuclear energy? Or opt for the tried-and-tested, albeit non-environmentally friendly sources such as coal or oil to fire up electricity-generating turbines?

Among the renewable sources, perhaps the most contentious choice for Singapore is nuclear energy.

Nuclear power is admittedly a potential tripwire for public anxiety, anger or objection that could unsettle Singaporeans. It is one of those topics with no fence-sitters: One either agrees that it is safe or it is not.

It is as simple as that?

The nuclear narrative must inform, educate and convince stakeholders that much progress has been made in making nuclear energy safe. For instance, fourth generation (Gen IV) reactors harness the power of the atom differently from the 1970s era nuclear reactors that made world headlines after the near meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, after the earthquake there in March 2011.

Even so, the public information campaign might end up stirring more skepticism when people learn that the world's first user of Gen IV reactors is China. Admit it, such skepticism did spring to mind as the Made in China label has been tainted repeatedly by shoddy manufacturing.

The populist option is to sit back and choose something else.

Singapore cannot dilly-dally too long. It will take time to nurture a critical mass of local talent who can safely operate and maintain nuclear power plants.

What's more, any foot-dragging might see Southeast Asia's first nuclear power plant commissioned in a neighbouring country. Even if we choose to stand still, others will not.

While this may be great news for people fearful of anything to do with nuclear energy, an offshore nuclear power plant would solve none - repeat none - of the environmental concerns that the anti-nuclear lobby routinely touts as talking points.

Think haze.

If forest fires are poorly managed due to corruption and lax enforcement, would you really sleep well at night with a nuclear reactor and the entire supply chain open to mismanagement or sabotage?

Should an accident occur, how long do you think you have before prevailing winds bring the problem right into your home? Probably less than 8 hours for a plant in Sumatra.

Worst-case scenarios aside, one must also contend with the possibility that our energy resilience will be compromised if a nuclear reactor opens for business up north or down south first.

Such a scenario would unfold when spare capacity from the foreign nuke power plant is offered for sale to Singapore's electricity grid at hard-to-beat prices that fossil fuel plants cannot match.

When that day comes, the powers-that-be will find it hard to resist public demands for cheaper energy.

It will indeed prove ironic that as Singapore weans itself of reliance on fresh water from Malaysia, we might someday face the prospect of increased reliance on a foreign source of electricity within the next two decades.

In an ideal and benign universe, there really isn't much to fret about imports of cheap and clean energy.

But honestly, we do not live in that ideal and benign universe.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Getting Singapore's airshow season from good to great

If you plot the successes of Singapore's airshow season, which takes place every even year, you will get a good example of an S-curve that badly needs good ideas to boost itself to the next growth phase.

After the initial growth spurt, airshow season in Singapore appears to have stagnated with little buzz.

Make no mistake: These airshows contribute handsomely to Singapore's economy, not just from the over-priced drinks and lunch meals tagged with crazy prices. Spinoffs from the event are creamed off by Singapore's exhibitions industry, hotels, restaurants, retail stores and all facets of Singapore's tourism sector who stand to gain when business folk turn tourist after the close of business at the airshow.

What's more, having corporate and defence heavyweights mark Singapore on their busy calendars strengthens Singapore's relevance to the closely networked and highly lucrative aviation and defence business circles.

So who said it was a bad idea?

It isn't.

Airshow season represents a welcome, albeit seasonal, stimulus for the Republic's economy.

What's worrying is the perception that the best years are over for airshow season in Singapore as rival events in the region seek to displace Singapore from its perch as the world's third biggest airshow venue after biennial airshows held in Paris, France and Farnborough in the United Kingdom (or the other way around depending on whether you speak to a Frenchman or Englishman).

To understand why, look at the airshow's growth trajectory in Singapore.

What started as a flyweight, trade-only event at Paya Lebar in the early 1980s morphed into Asian Aerospace in 1984, a trade show held on the fringe of Changi Airport which sold tickets to the public on the last weekend of the show. That year's event was marked by tragedy when a live Armbrust light anti-tank weapon was fired at the Chartered Industries of Singapore booth, killing one visitor with its backblast.

By 1988, Asian Aerospace chalked up a new milestone with its first ever flying display segment. Sixty minutes of flying time was rationed for defence and commercial aviation firms to demonstrate what their product could do. This set AA on its expansion phase.

In 1990, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Black Knights made show history as the first aerobatic team to perform at Asian Aerospace.

In 1994, Asian Aerospace reaped the peace dividend with a large contingent from Russia displaying some of its most advanced combat helicopters, including flying tanks like the Hind and Hokum. This marked the first time such war machines were seen in Singapore since the end of the Cold War. That high watermark of red steel has never been surpassed, with the Russians taking their business to the Langkawi show in Malaysia instead.

At the turn of the century, visitors to Asian Aerospace 2000 got their money's worth when they were thrilled by three precision aerobatics teams. Count'em: Australia's Roulettes, Patrouille de France from the French Air Force and the RSAF's Black Knights. That record has never been beaten.

The Millennium Air Power Conference held on the sidelines of AA2000 was also an unprecedented event that drew air forces chiefs from around the world in the same conference room.

Visitors to Asian Aerospace in the noughties were treated to flying displays by the most advanced strategic bombers from the United States Air Force, with the B-1 Lancer, B-2 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress joining the growing list of warplanes that had flown during Singapore's airshow season.

In 2004, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle appeared during the Asian Aerospace flying display. This was a bold first for Asian Aerospace, with the UAV's debut presaging the influence drones would play in future air battles.

Curtain call
The year 2006 was the curtain call for the well-loved Asian Aerospace series. Reed Exhibitions, the company that owns the Asian Aerospace brand, moved the airshow to Hong Kong after talks over the venue of future airshows were deadlocked. In hindsight, moving AA to Hong Kong essentially killed the show as it robbed the event of the all-important defence component as American and European defence companies would not display their stuff on Chinese soil. But we digress...

And so, the Singapore Airshow made its debut from 2008 and has been held at the sun-baked, hard-to-reach exhibition site that springs to life every two years. The Singapore Airshow or SA for short was initially called the Changi International Airshow. The name was changed to leverage on the Singapore brand - foreigners always called Asian Aerospace the "Singapore air show" anyway - but some suspect the change of heart came about from the unfortunate acronym for Changi International Airshow. But we digress again...

So we've seen the RSAF Black Knights fly at the Singapore Airshow. And we've seen the RSAF stage a somewhat comprehensive shop window at recent editions of the Singapore Airshow. It's good, indeed expected, for the host nation's air force to set the example with a strong presence.

But the show's growth trajectory appears to have plateaued, mirroring the phase of the sigmoid curve that business planners worry about.

To boost the wow factor for the Singapore Airshow, the airshow's planners must go back to first principles to address why people attend airshows in the first place: People go there to be wowed by flying machines.

Win that critical mass and airshow glitterati and a strong public turnout will support the event.

When foreign visitors remember Singapore's airshow season more for its heat, humidity and over-priced Cokes, we have a serious image problem on our hands. When these visitors tell you it is expensive to fly here to do business and talk shop, we better sit up and listen.

Barriers to entry for any country who wants to stage its own air show are low. Essentially anyone with an airport, open space for exhibition halls, a reasonably connected air hub that links other parts of the world to the show venue and half-decent hotels for aviation and defence salesfolk to rest their tired souls can join the airshow circuit.

All ASEAN countries within three hours flying of Singapore have tried, but to varying degrees of success.

The success of the Singapore Airshow owes much to the Lion City's reputation as a place to do business and a venue where networking opportunities are reasonably rich. But as aviation and defence firms see their travel budgets chopped, we risk losing the critical mass that appeals to airshow glitterati who make time to fly to Singapore to see and be seen.

To get our airshow from good to great takes a change in mindsets similar to the one displayed by aviation planners when we made the bold decision to close Changi Airport - the region's busiest airport - for 60 minutes for the airshow to stage its flying display.

And while it is true that flying displays are expensive to stage, the reality is that the RSAF practices for air combat every week of the year. With some creative planning, routine training flights could be timed such that outgoing or incoming formations of RSAF warplanes or combat helicopters could make an appearance at the airshow.

And as Changi Airport plans its future terminal, perhaps some thought should be invested into planning a show venue where aircraft take-offs and landings - which are part and parcel of flying display staged in Paris and Farnborough - can be appreciated by airshow visitors. An airshow venue with a clear view of the runway would present future editions of the Singapore Airshow with a stage for exciting flying displays never before seen in Singapore.

Ditch the gimmicks that risk turning the airshow into a carnival. It is silly, counter productive and dilutes the reputation of Singapore's airshow season. Even at the current state of play, many foreign exhibitors at the Singapore Airshow cordon off their booths during the public days with some exhibitors leaving their stands virtually unmanned on public days. To them, public days at the airshow are a time-wasting nuisance.

If carnival time descends on the Singapore Airshow, do you seriously think it will change or cement such mindsets?

With less than a month to go before the Singapore Airshow 2016 kicks off, it is perhaps too late to change horse at this late stage.

For the sake of the airshow's future, serious belly gazing ought to be done to take Singapore's airshow season to the next growth phase.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Towards a safer SAVER plan for our SAF men and women

Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) officers who have entrusted their retirement savings to SAVER fund managers are likely to wonder how this week's stock market turmoil has affected their nest egg.

Is SAVER safe? One wishes there could be a definitive answer to that.

Need to know
Looking at how some unfortunate officer cohorts were hit by returns which were less than advertised - we hear a batch of fund managers were sacked by the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) years ago - one ought to assess if the SAVings & Employee Retirement (SAVER) plan can live up to its name as an investment plan for savers worthy of supporting the men and women who keep us safe 24/365.

It is ironic that SAF key appointment holders probably know more about the commanders they may face in battle than the individuals who manage the millions of dollars of SAVER money that belongs to SAF personnel.

Beyond the fancy name of the equity fund and brand name investment officers, who are the "worker bee" individuals who actually manage the money?

What is their personal track record in making money grow and experience in the financial sector?

Have their own investments aced the market or have they tanked?

Buyer beware
For SAF officers left with no choice after the pension scheme was removed, it is a matter of choosing the SAVER plan option that reflects their individual risk appetite.

Market savvy officers will argue they can probably outperform the fund managers had they been given the option to invest their own funds. But they do not.

The risk averse among SAF officers need better assurance that the SAVER rate of return will indeed  see the light of day. But are they getting their money's worth?

Fund managers should save the sales talk for the naive and the impressionable. The SAF Officer Corps is hardwired to assess desired outcomes (a credible rate of return for their savings), courses of action and success factors. And these officers want to see their money work hard for their retirement. And indeed, they have every right to such expectations.

It will take time to purge the system of horror stories of SAF officers whose miserable SAVER returns failed to live up to the fund managers' hype at one point in time.

As the SAVER scheme is here to stay, what's needed is a bold transformation not of the logic behind the scheme - generating and sustaining savings for the employee's retirement - but the quantum of a decent return on investment for SAF officers.

Introduced in 1998, the staff work and studies that led to the SAVER plan began in mid 1996.

These studies pre-date the wild ride in stock market trading patterns and shorter economic cycles that kicked into play after the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, the boom and bust in 2000, the 9/11 attacks in 2001, SARS in 2003 and the 2008 financial crisis.

The logic behind SAVER's Dynamic, Balanced and Stable investment war plans, hatched in the late 1990s, needs to be fundamentally and clinically reappraised to see if the promised ROI is realistic, achievable and sustainable.

If stock market gyrations and economic cycles make it difficult or too risky for fund managers to do their magic, we must recognise that the landscape has changed and adjust accordingly.

Time to forge a new partnership
Under the current state of play, is the risk really worth the reward?

Look around you: Big name financial houses have been burnt with bad trading calls. How successfully have fund manager safeguarded the savings for SAF officers who are expected to transition to a second career in their mid 40s, which is just about the time when their children are still in school and home mortgages have yet to be fully serviced?

Instead of generating returns by hiring fund managers to play the stock market, we should guarantee our SAF officers a decent yet secure rate of return through Government funds that can be budgeted for and sustained through taxes, levies and the like. With uncertainty over SAVER taken out of the conversation, our men and women in uniform can concentrate on the tasks at hand with full confidence that their retirement nest egg is secure.

The SAF has a slew of multi-spectrum capabilities on call 24/365 to defend Singapore against a range of threats.

Alas, one thing the men and women of the SAF Officer Corps cannot safeguard is their own retirement savings. They deserve better.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

First visit to Japan

Wartime print by a Japanese artist that portrays the sinking of HMS Prince of Wales off Malaya on 10 December 1941. The loss of Prince of Wales marked the first time a capital ship had been sunk by aircraft while underway. The Royal Navy had discounted the air threat as British warships had been operating in the Mediterranean since 1939 under attack from two European air arms without a single loss of a capital ship.

Made my first visit to Japan recently and chanced upon a travelling bookstore in the Shinjuku area in Tokyo. While browsing aimlessly, a stack of old prints of about A3 size caught my eye.

As I flipped through the stack of prints, found about a dozen prints that were apparently inspired by the Malayan campaign that started in December 1941 and ended with the British surrender in Singapore to the Japanese on 15 February 1942.

Was also surprised to find three booklets of pictures from Malaya and Singapore, probably taken during the 1950s.

The prints and booklets came home with me.

There were other prints in the series related to the Pacific War that showed Japanese operations in the Philippines and South Pacific that were left in the stack.

Made a return visit to Shinjuku a week later with the intention of buying the rest of the prints but the travelling bookstore had gone... :-(

HMS Repulse goes down off Kuantan after aerial bombing and torpedo attack while HMS Prince of Wales fights on.

A print by an imaginative Japanese artist showing the moment Japanese armour breaks into a British Vickers machine gun post in Malaya. Reality was not much different from this print as British forces were outflanked and outgunned by fast moving Japanese armoured spearheads moving southwards to Singapore.

A Japanese artist's rendition of the British surrender delegation making contact with Japanese advanced guard in Singapore.

The WW2 prints from Tokyo have found a new home in Singapore.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The old and the new #tank

From 1992 to 1996, all frontline armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) in the Singapore Army were older than the full-time National Servicemen who enlisted during that period*.

These old AFVs packed quite a punch.

Had they been deployed for operations against AFVs typically found in this region, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Armour Formation would have had little problem demolishing its assigned targets. Swiftly and decisively, one might add.

Unpublicised at the time, the project to upgrade ageing 1960s-era AMX-13 light tanks to SM1 standard hinged principally on the success of upgrading the tank's firepower. The new engine and transmission were of secondary importance. The APFSDS round that resulted from Project S led to the go-ahead for Project A, the umbrella project title for the AMX-13 upgrade that included better known aspects of the modernisation such as the quieter and fuel efficient (i.e. greater range) Detroit Diesel engine, ZF transmission (i.e. easier to drive), Dunlostrut suspension (i.e. smoother ride for a more alert crew) and so on.

That the SM1 was a much better killing machine that could punch holes into AFVs well above its weight class was a factoid the SAF kept under wraps for many years more.

If an old AFV is still a good warhorse, then a brand new one designed from a blank sheet (or screen, as the case may be) would be even better? One would hope so.

Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the unveiling of the Bionix (BX) infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), the first troop-carrying armoured vehicle designed and built in Singapore. Since the first generation BX joined Singapore Armoured Regiment battalions, defence labs worldwide have made enormous progress making various pieces of defence electronics smaller, more reliable and robust enough for use in a vehicle built for rough terrain.

So Moore's Law has proven itself. And that handheld communications device that some of you are using to read this post packs capabilities unheard of when the BX1 first appeared.

With some creativity, wiring up an AFV can transform the vehicle into an armoured node in a battlefield network that presents her crew with unrivalled situational awareness. This is a boon to armoured vehicle operations in urban and vegetated areas which typically present challenges for the AFV crew buttoned up under armour.

The ability to sense-make is likely to be derived from a lot more than the AFV's suite of onboard cameras, which, to be blunt, are really no big deal. Such cameras (albeit less robust ones) are commonly found on civilian vehicles too to help the driver check blind spots when reversing and to record the road situation in the frontal aspect.

The new sensor suite is far more than a parking aid. But the ability to "see first, see more" as part of a networked fighting force counts for little if one cannot reach out and kill the enemy, especially targets who lurk out of line-of-sight, at the earliest opportunity.

The SAF's long experience with such hardware, which predates the introduction of the Spike anti-tank guided missile, has given our defence planners and engineers a good idea of the potential of non-line-of-sight guided munitions.

The SAF's experience operating the AMX-13 - Singapore's 300-plus strong AMX-13 tank force was for many years the biggest AMX-13 fleet in the world - has also rewarded our defence engineers with a good idea of what a reliable autoloader should look like and how one should function. The autoloader aboard the AMX-13 worked effectively without an oversized turret because of its oscillating turret design which kept the 75mm gun breech and revolver magazines in line at all angles of gun elevation/depression.

One should also recall the defence engineering community's success in giving the AMX-13 a more lethal punch with the same main gun. This was not easy considering the SM1 was one of the few AFVs in the world that fired a sabot round from a barrel with a muzzle brake. The dimensions of the round were therefore constrained by the size of the ammunition carousel - which would have been more straightforward from a design standpoint for a hand-loaded tank gun as the length of the dart penetrator would not face such size limitations.

In short, the ability to destroy better protected enemy armour need not necessarily call for a large cannon as there are many ways to defeat the threats.

The fact that the Leopard 2SG, Singapore's third MBT, has a loader in its crew underlines one downside of buying foreign equipment which, by their off-the-shelf nature, are not designed for one's specific operational requirements.

With Singapore's total fertility rate on the decline, the future SAF must be mindful of maximising the contribution from every citizen soldier.

If technology can serve certain functions in fighting a tank, why not?

A smaller armed force puts a premium on protecting the AFV crew to the maximum extent possible.

And one would imagine a project team complemented by sound ops-tech integration would have made provision for maximum protection by design and by function of additional devices.

The curtain is still down.

But one is eager to see what emerges when the time is right.

* Frontline AFVs from that era include the first MBT, AMX-13 light tank and M-113 armoured personnel carrier. While the M-113s with 6600 MID-series numberplates were introduced in the early 1970s, the M-113s with 9000 MID-series numberplates joined the SARs in the 1980s. Am using the in-service date for the M-113s acquired in the 1970s under Project S in this context.

Monday, January 4, 2016

World's best and Number One in this-and-that? It's hard work staying there.

As airliners that can fly a longer distance bypass Singapore and as container ships that can carry more cargo do the same, the city-state's relevance to the world economy ebbs.

The music won't stop all of a sudden. But the signs are there:

  • Business intelligence reports flag out that Singapore will not reclaim its crown as the world's busiest port from Shanghai for the foreseeable future. The Chinese port won that title in 2010. This involves more than bragging rights. A port needs a critical mass of small feeder vessels, air cargo freighters, mega container ships and efficient turnaround to thrive. Rival ports with dreams of becoming the second busiest already know that and have their sights set on Singapore.
  • An Arab state has apparently been successful in luring more than a handful of Singapore's air traffic controllers (ATC) to the Middle East. An upsized ATC staff is usually a lead indicator for growing airport capacity - which is bad news if airlines that flock to a new air hub displace Changi Airport's business model. Our limited talent pool and lead-time needed to train new ATC staffers amplify the loss. What good is a new runway and new Terminal 5 unless our airport is adequately staffed with experienced personnel to lead Changi into the new decade and beyond?

And did anyone mention the possibility of new sea routes through the Arctic Circle that shorten the passage between continents?

We should not delude ourselves into thinking that past successes at future-proofing our rice bowl translate to future success.

Nothing is guaranteed.

Some travellers to Changi Airport may have been flummoxed recently when made to deplane by climbing down stairs in the middle of the airport apron. These passengers are then bussed to the airport terminal. It's a blast from the past at a Singapore airport last seen during the heyday of Paya Lebar Airport in the 1970s.

You could be charitable and call it a happy problem since the shortage of aerobridges during peak periods proves Changi has no shortage of air traffic.

Or you could be a realist and ask why our world famous ability to design and build for the future did not materialise during instances of lapsed capacity in air transport.

Look around our neighbourhood. The city that lent her name to the Malacca Strait many centuries ago when it was the region's go-to port is a shadow of her former self. Lost her crown (and sultan) as a leading seaport, never to regain her pre-eminence.

Look at Air Hitam. Once a popular stopover for the road trip up and down the Federation, bustling with vegetable sellers and sellers of sweet limes and assorted snacks, the Aw Pottery en route another popular rest stop. And this was during the time when Singapore dollar and Malaysian Ringgit were on par...

Where is Air Hitam now? Why, it's where it's always been off a trunk road that used to be much busier. But today's youngsters who have only known the North-South Highway as the way to Kuala Lumpur would have to resort to Google as many of them would not have heard of it.

Malacca and Air Hitam both suffered the same fate once their relevance to trade routes and commerce left them literally by the wayside.

If we are not careful and lapse into complacency, the world will pass us by.

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Singapore's neighbours close development gap. Click here

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Want to buy: S$50 for your SAF unit publications, ORD books

Spring cleaning? If your Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) unit publication needs a new home, why not sell it off?

Will pay S$50 for your SAF commemorative book, anniversary publication or ORD book - if the book isn't already on our bookshelf. The book must be intact with no pages missing and text/pictures untouched.

Please send a picture of the book, title and unit it was published for to All correspondence will be kept confidential.

Your contribution will be treasured. Thank you :-)

Friday, January 1, 2016

Defence and security highlights in Singapore in 2016

Happy New Year!

After the landmark year of SG50, how can we top that?

As 2016 unfolds, defence-related activities will still feature prominently and carry on the momentum from activities staged to mark Singapore's 50th year of  independence (SG50) in 2015. These include the flypast and Mobile Column during the National Day Parade 2015 and public performances by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Black Knights display team.

This year's highlights include:

16 to 21 Feb 2016: Singapore Airshow. Held on the fringe of Changi Airport every even year,this year's show will once again stoke speculation whether or not MINDEF/SAF will buy the F-35 Lightning II warplane and if so, which variant and how many. Speculation over the Fokker 50 Mk.2S Enforcer replacement and a successor for the RSAF's ageing medium-lift helicopter fleet will add to the gossip mill.

24 March 2016: Budget Day. Look out for the Defence Budget which is listed under Head J of the Committee of Supply. It would indeed be a surprise if the Head J allocation dips.

3 to 5 June 2016: Shangri-La Dialogue. South China Sea issues, Freedom of Navigation, international terrorism will continue to dominate as talking points at the Asian Security Summit - the formal name for the annual defence and security talks hosted by Singapore.

1 July 2016: SAF Day

November 2016: Singapore's defence science and engineering community will mark their 50th anniversary. The boffins have delivered many innovative solutions specially tailored to meet the specific operational requirements of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

SAF war machines set to debut in 2016

In 2016, the Bionix 1 infantry fighting vehicles will be almost 20 years old. Senang Diri expects that the long-awaited AMX-13 SM1 light tank replacement will finally make its public debut in 2016. Expect heavy use of defence electronics to give the fighting vehicle's small crew superior awareness compared to previous platforms. The platform is said to have successfully completed exhaustive mobility trials overseas some time ago.

The hoisting of the RSAF TCOM aerostat, which was reportedly due in 2015 but never happened due to safety issues, is likely to make the news in 2016.

On the naval front, the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) is expected to take delivery of the Independence-class Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV) this year. The second and third LMVs could also be launched this year at the Singapore Technologies Marine yard in Benoi Basin, followed by a fitting-out period before sea trials.