- Oto Melara Hitrole 12.7mm gun in stealth mounting in place of the 7.62mm GPMG remote weapon system
- Superstructure of a different design
- Navigation radar mounted on what appears to be a retractable mast
- Different arrangement for the vents/air intakes on the aft superstructure
- A mast amidships with radar reflectors
Sleek and futuristic-looking even out of the water, the SMC comes into its own out at sea.
The high-speed craft's published speed "in excess of 30 knots" is a modest understatement of how fast her twin Hamilton waterjets can propel the 22-metre long SMC in open water.
"The SMCs are deployed for base defence and force protection. They will also operate alongside the (Fearless-class) Patrol Vessels/(Independence-class) Littoral Mission Vessels to deliver swift, flexible and decisive responses against maritime security threats," said a Ministry of Defence Fact Sheet on the NDP 2015 Mobile Column.
Taken at face value, the SMCs might come across as just another surface platform in HQ Fleet.
But it is unlike any other in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and has few peers in any navy.
Indeed, the Defence Technology Prize Team (Engineering) Award secured by the SMCs designers back in 2006 and the tight lid MINDEF/SAF imposed on any image or mention of the SMC's warfighting potential, provide telling hints on how special this craft really is.
If off-the-shelf solutions were an easy answer, the joint team from the Defence Science & Technology Agency (DSTA), DSO National Laboratories and Singapore Technologies Marine need not have bothered with conceptualising the SMC in partnership with RSN naval warfare planners.
The SMC design points to extensive efforts at creating a high-speed marine interceptor that can hunt and kill its quarry undetected.
The SMC's low observable design makes it ideally suited to complement Halmatic VSVs (at 60+ knots, the VSVs are the SAF's fastest vessels) fielded by SAF Commandos for unannounced visits behind enemy lines, possibly in the dark of night.
As more than 10 years have elapsed since the kick start meeting that resulted in the SMC, it's a pretty safe bet that the SMC design and CONOPS has matured substantially in the past decade or so. The SMC design defence observers scrutinised at close quarters during the NDP rehearsals stems from a project started about a decade ago for a naval craft whose in-service date harks back to 2009.
Have things evolved since then in Singapore's weapons laboratories? *ponders*
Indeed, follow-on projects to the vanilla "SMC" presented to the public may already be on the water, awaiting the lifting of the veil of secrecy imposed on these new fast
Don't count on seeing the new designs anytime soon though. Perhaps at SG100?
Specialised Marine Craft (SMC)
Height above waterline: 2.5m
Speed: "In excess of 30 knots"
Crew: Four personnel
Armament: Oto Melara Hitrole 12.7mm
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