SAFTI City 'the size of Bishan' to be built for army training

The current SAFTI training area will be revamped over a decade into SAFTI City - a realistic simulation environment the size of Bishan town.
Channel NewsAsia 3 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Armed Forces’ (SAF) western SAFTI training area will be revamped into a new “SAFTI City” over a decade and at a cost of about S$900 million, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in Parliament on Friday (Mar 3).

“Singapore has finite land and we are building new training facilities overseas,” he said. But at the same time, we must have world-class training facilities in Singapore itself. We must guard against over-dependence on overseas training grounds. It is not possible for all our NSmen to only train overseas as the bulk of our training is still conducted locally, especially for our Army.”

Noting that modern warfare and peacekeeping missions alike are now much more likely to take place in built-up cities instead, Dr Ng said: “The new SAFTI City will allow any battalion to fight across different terrains successively as they will do in real-life missions. It will therefore have both urban and conventional terrain. In the urban setting there will be low houses and high-rise buildings. In the open terrain - jungles, hills and rivers to cross.”

“But the signature change will be that state-of-the-art training simulation technologies will be designed into new physical facilities to replicate distinct operating environments.”

SAFTI City will span 88 hectares, about the size of Bishan town, and comprises two sectors of extensive road networks and more than 200 buildings.

The first sector, located at the northern edge of the Poyan Reservoir, will prepare soldiers for Island Defence competencies in places like Jurong Island, against a backdrop of a petrochemical complex, warehouses, container parks and industrial buildings.

The second sector focuses on training homeland security, disaster relief and civil contingency response operations. It will simulate Singapore’s dense urban environment through basement carparks, dense clusters of shophouses, high-rise interconnected buildings, a bus interchange, an underground MRT station with multiple surface exits, low-rise residences and rubble.

SAFTI City will also be equipped with Battlefield Instrumentation and video cameras to allow real-time tracking of the servicemen’s and unit’s combat actions. The data will be collated and processed using intelligent analytics software and packaged into learning materials.

Added Dr Ng: “There will be interactive targets and battlefield effects such as artillery attacks that will allow our soldiers to train more realistically and provide feedback about how well they performed. When completed, SAFTI City will take our NS training onto a much higher level of realism and effectiveness.”


In the areas surrounding SAFTI City, three new Instrumented Battle Circuits (iBACs) will be developed in existing SAF training areas in Pasir Laba, Ama Keng and Murai.

The iBACs address Singapore’s space constraints with design and landscapes to allow intensified and more efficient training in smaller plots of land.

They come with features like interactive avatars as well as simulated artillery bombardment and airstrikes to create realistic and immersive training environments to train small-unit fighting skills, said Dr Ng. “Different scenarios can be configured for both peacetime contingency and conventional military operations,” he added.

The Pasir Laba iBAC will facilitate light, motorised and mechanised infantry training for up to three companies and feature platoon battle courses.

Meanwhile, Ama Keng can accommodate concurrent training in mounted operations by two platoons, and allow soldiers to execute battle drills from on-board combat vehicles such as the Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles, Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle and the Leopard 2A4 Main Battle Tank.

Murai’s iBAC will feature nine section-level battle lanes for infantry sections to train their cognitive and psychomotor skills using customised mission scenarios.


Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung also announced that a new Centre of Excellence for Soldier Performance (CESP) will be operational at the end of 2017.

“This centre will focus on fitness regimes, soldier nutrition, pre-habilitation regimes to prevent injuries, and rehabilitation to help injured national servicemen recover,” said Mr Ong. “The centre will also integrate training packages on resilience to enhance the mental strength of our soldiers.”

The CESP will provide a comprehensive and scientific approach through programmes and methods developed by research specialists. It will also look at enhancing soldier performance during training and other operational uses, by collecting anthropometric data to allow the SAF to design systems that are more ergonomic.

MINDEF also said the CESP would look into fitness and recovery programmes to support soldiers after full-time National Service.

'City' the size of Bishan to be built for SAF training
KENNETH CHENG Today Online 3 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE — From dense clusters of shophouses to low-rise residences, a sprawling military training facility the size of Bishan will be built southwest of Lim Chu Kang, in an effort to ramp up training realism for soldiers.

The 88-ha Singapore Armed Forces Training Institute (Safti) City will span more than 200 buildings and extensive road networks, allowing soldiers to train for operations from homeland security to counter-terrorism, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen announced in Parliament on Friday (March 3).

The S$900 million facility will be constructed over a decade. Split into two sectors, its first sector will be devoted to training servicemen in island defence competencies, such as coastal defence operations.

Located at the northern edge of the Poyan Reservoir, this sector will comprise elements such as a petrochemical complex, warehouses and container parks.

The second sector, devoted to sharpening competencies in homeland security and urban operations, will have urban features to simulate the dense environment of Singapore’s commercial residential areas.

These include high-rise interconnected buildings, low-rise residences, an MRT station with multiple exits and a bus interchange. It will also allow the Army to train servicemen for disaster-relief operations, as well as for civil contingencies like floods to support the Home Affairs Ministry.

Through it all, a serviceman and unit’s combat actions will be tracked in real-time using battlefield instrumentation and video cameras. Data amassed will be put through intelligent analytics software and packaged into learning materials, for effective training debriefs.

For more realistic training, the facility will also be armed with battlefield-effect simulators to bring about an immersive environment for training.

Meanwhile, three battle circuits will also be developed in existing SAF training spaces in western Singapore. They will be situated in the Pasir Laba and Ama Keng training areas, and the Murai Urban Training Facility (MUTF).

Allowing up to three infantry companies to train at the same time, the Pasir Laba circuit will be designated for light, motorised and mechanised infantry operations. It will feature, among other things, battle courses where platoons can hone their drills for attack and defence scenarios.

The Ama Keng circuit will allow motorised or mechanised infantry platoons to do drill-based training, enabling two such platoons to train concurrently. The battle drills include ambush drills and securing and clearing mine clusters.

Finally, an existing MUTF sector will transform to feature nine section-level battle lanes, which can run concurrently, enabling light and motorised infantry sections to hone their cognitive and psychomotor skills while operating in a complex urban space.

With more motorised and mechanised SAF units pushing up the Army’s land-use needs to conduct training, these battle circuits allow intensified and more efficient training in smaller spaces.

Apart from greater realism and interactivity — with features such as simulated artillery bombardment and airstrikes and interactive virtual avatars — these battle circuits will also have an improved battlefield-monitoring system. Tapping data analytics and user-centric debriefing tools, it will be able to provide objective feedback on soldiers’ and units’ training to improve performance.

Read more!

Industries and vehicles add to bad air days

Audrey Tan Straits Times 3 Mar 17;

Forest fires in the region are not the only source of Singapore's bad air days. A new study has suggested that domestic pollution may also be responsible for hazy skies.

The study by Dr Lee Hsiang-He from the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (Smart) suggested that, on average, about one-third of the low-visibility days in Singapore were caused by pollutants from forest fires, called fire aerosols.

Her findings were published in the scientific journal Atmospheric Chemistry And Physics.

While the study did not identify the other sources of pollution, Dr Lee has some theories, which she plans to explore.

"The pollution could also be partially coming from local sources, such as emissions from industries, the maritime sector or even vehicles. The next step in our research is to pinpoint the exact sources, so measures can be taken to reduce emissions," said the post-doctoral associate at Smart's Centre for Environmental Sensing and Modelling.

Dr Lee worked on the study with two colleagues from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States.

The burning of forests in South-east Asia has for decades been pinpointed as the source of bad air quality in Singapore and the region.

But Dr Lee said these fires have had a varying impact in various parts of South-east Asia, due to factors such as general wind direction, local weather conditions and the location of the fires.

For example, Bangkok often receives smoke haze from fires on mainland South-east Asia, which includes Malaysia and Cambodia.

Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, on the other hand, are affected mainly by forest fires raging in Sumatra, whereas Kuching in Sarawak gets haze from forest fires in Borneo.

Using visibility data from Changi Airport, Dr Lee found that Singapore experienced an average of 96 low-visibility days every year over a 12-year period from 2003 to 2014.

These are defined as days when it is not possible to see beyond 10km. Low-visibility days due to rain are excluded from this count.

Dr Lee then sought to clarify how many of these days were caused by fire aerosols. This was done by inputting fire-emission data - taken from two burning emission databases compiled by research organisations in the US - using a weather research and forecasting model.

The model is able to trace the pathways of fire aerosols under the different weather conditions over past years.

It showed that in Singapore, 34 per cent of the 96 bad air days experienced yearly over the period were due to fire aerosols.

This was also the case for other parts of South-east Asia.

The model also showed that about half of the 200 low-visibility days experienced yearly in cities such as Jakarta, Bangkok, Hanoi and Yangon were caused by fire aerosols.

However, Dr Lee pointed out that the fire emissions might have been underestimated.

Since the study considered only emissions from fires, she plans to conduct further research to quantify the impact of local sources, such as industries.

"But, overall, the results suggest that in order to improve air quality in South-east Asia, besides reducing or even prohibiting planned or unplanned fires, mitigation policies targeting pollution sources other than fires also need to be implemented," said Dr Lee.

Tiny pollutant particles known as PM2.5 are dominant during periods of haze. These particles are 30 times smaller than the diameter of a strand of human hair and are what make haze dangerous, as they are small enough to enter the bloodstream and be carried to the organs.

In 2015, when Singapore experienced the worst haze on record, the National Environment Agency said that visibility does not directly correlate with PM2.5 concentration levels, as other chemical compounds or reactions and weather factors may be involved.

Dr Lee's findings were consistent with these observations, said a spokesman for the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR).

"PM2.5 is contributed not only by transboundary haze, but also by domestic sources, with vehicles and industries being the two largest domestic contributors," noted the spokesman.

Measures have been implemented recently to curb domestic pollution. These include the tightening of emission standards for new vehicles and industries, as well as the introduction of incentive schemes to promote early retirement of old diesel commercial vehicles.

"The recent announcement in this year's Budget statement on the extension and enhancement of the Early Turnover Scheme will help encourage the retirement of older and more pollutive diesel commercial vehicles and buses," added the spokesman.

More details on this will be released at MEWR's Committee of Supply debate this month.

Read more!