Aerostat radar in Singapore
Singapore launches aerostat radar. [Representative Image] In Picture: A Raytheon Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) aerostat is pictured on the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, in this February 22, 2012 photo obtained on February 1, 2013.Reuters

Republic of Singapore Air Force has launched a new helium balloon radar, 55m-long Aerostat, which can cover an area of up to 200km and provide 24/7 surveillance to the island city-state off southern Malaysia.

The radar will complement the existing layers of defence sensors both on ground and air, including UAVs and surveillance planes, Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Tuesday.

Aerostat becomes useful as high-rise buildings block ground-based radars. Over the next few months, Aerostat will be tested at different heights to see that it is effective at all heights.

The balloon is made up of polyester, tedlar PVF film and mylar film. Eight ground crew members are needed to operate it.

The balloon is tethered to ground and this tether is made of Kevlar (used in bullet proofing). It will be able to withstand strong winds and lightning strikes. The balloon does emit radiation, but it will be on the same level as those of mobile phones.

The deployment was delayed by a year as it was not an urgent deployment and wanted to be sure it is safe before it was operational.

Aerostat has been made by US-based TCOM. Currently, several countries are testing Aerostat, including India. US agencies like Customs and Border Protection Agency have it operational with them.

Protected Combat Support Vehicle

Meanwhile, Singapore Army has also inducted the Protected Combat Support Vehicle, a 20-tonne four-wheel drive. These vehicles have mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) support platform, especially for motorised infantry combat units of Singapore Army, IHS Jane's Defence Weekly reported.

These vehicles can hold two crew members and up to eight personnel in its rear compartment. It can hit a top speed of 110 km/h and has a maximum range of 600 km. As self-defence, the vehicle has a 7.62 mm machine gun in a roof-mounted remote-controlled weapon station. Additionally, it features onboard C4 suite, which supports high-speed voice and data communications, the report noted.